Fuck me, absolutely breathtaking LP... a fifty-minute instrumental voyage - somehow both epic and courageously understated - to the outer edges / intersection of DIY pop, free improvisation, modal jazz, art-rock minimalism and chamber music... can't think of ANY contemporary or recent music this humane, poignant or revitalising... probably because it doesn't exist. Turns out life is worth living after all!
As leader of the much-adored, shapeshifting pop-naïf collective Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Kudo has amassed a capacious and singular catalogue of recordings over the past four decades, and legion key movers in the Japanese underground - including members of Fushitsusha, High Rise, Tenniscoats, Nagisa Ni Te and Ché-SHIZU - have passed through Maher’s ranks. He is at the centre of his own solar system.
This album documents an ensemble performance of Kudo’s wistful, swaying composition ‘Last Song Of My Life’, which was given to accompany the screening of a film work by Umi Ishihara aka Ummmi entitled The Garden Apartment. The members of the ensemble were instructed to play either the eight-bar score that Kudo provided, or noise, depending on their response to the film being projected. The central repeated melody seems to gain melancholic intensity and grandeur with each increasingly fatigued cycle, as the players’ improvisations oscillate between blowsy vamping, ethereal shimmer, and Toop-ish incidental scrape and scuttle, but always with that rough-hewn, first-guess-best-guess, anti-virtuoso musicianship which is Kudo’s signature...
In terms of what it could be likened to, Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s legendary 2009 date with Bill Wells comes to mind, as does, off the top of me head, the Mike Taylor Remembered album (!), the Robert Wyatt of Rock Bottom's second side and Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, Jim O’Rourke’s Eureka and the heavily interrelated works of ‘90s Red Krayola and solo Stephen Prina…or maybe Officer! giving a live rendition of Gavin Bryars’ Sinking Of The Titanic?! Jon Dale’s liner mention a few totemic works of recent-ish modern composition like Walter Zimmermann’s Lokale Musik, Christian Wolff’s Exercises, James Tenney’s Postal Pieces, which give some sense of the piece’s gravitas as well as its hypnotic, cellular form...but The Last Song Of My Life has no classical or intellectual pretensions… in Kudo’s hands, it’s always folk music, always pop music, always JOY.
Edition of 275 in heavy jacket with obi, postcards and inserts - stunning An'archives presentation as per. **SHIPS FRIDAY!**