On Live At OTOOTO & Permian, two guitarists from Japan, Taku Sugimoto and Takashi Masubuchi, ask a series of unresolved questions – about time, about interplay, about tonality. Those who know Sugimoto’s music will recognise here a certain tension, and a feeling for the apposite; these two traits have been core to his playing and composing since he first introduced himself to the broader listening public, in the ‘90s, with albums like Opposite. Masubuchi, who has also recently collaborated with Shizuo Uchida and Straytone, intersects with Sugimoto in a number of ways – they share interests in Morton Feldman and in folk blues, both of which are evident here in the abstract.
Live At OTOOTO & Permian is particularly fascinating for its surprise, its contrast, and its unique character. Sugimoto may have been cautious of improvisation of late, but here his playing sits perfectly alongside Masubuchi’s rich, resonant explorations of his acoustic guitar. Of note is the juxtaposition between Masubuchi’s glistening, open-ended notes – in equal temperament – and the glissing, reedy drones and tensile droplets of tone from Sugimoto’s guitar, in a tuning that he himself devised. The five tracks here, excerpts from live performances at Permian (a venue run by Masubuchi with fellow guitarist, Riuchi Daijo) and OTOOTO (run by Hiromi and Seiji Kimura) are messages sent from the front, exploratory devices – the blues and the abstract truth. (Jon Dale)