Volcanic Island

The Volcanic Guitar of Yasuhiro Usui

Japanese guitarist Yasuhiro Usui is the man behind the Nagoya Version of the Satoko Fujii Orchestra, the wildest version of this Orchestra. Last year, Usui produced and released, on his own label, the Orchestra’s first release (Nagoyanian, Bakamo, 2004), and managed to charge it with tons of eccentric and manic energy. Usui is also a frequent collaborator of highly creative musicians including reed player Ned Rothenberg and vocalist Phil Minton. Now he has released two more discs through his new label, that document his meeting with guitarist Elliot Sharp and the collaborative Nagoya-based trio, Okidoki.

(By Eyal Hareuveni)


What a noisy heaven. Usui and Sharp could not find a better title for this documentation of their volcanic meeting that was recorded in New York in July 2003. Sharp, on the right channel, and Usui, on the left channel, create so many stormy noises and seismic eruptions on their electric guitars, grinding the strings, pushing them into feedback cacophony, sliding them with obscene objects, and provoking a lot of mysterious sound terrains; all done so intensely that you need
The six tracks are built in almost organic manner. The two guitarists feel in the dark for similar lines, and than delve head-on into them, daring to experience any avenue and welcome any mysterious sound. The outcome is somewhere between the spontaneous improvisations of Derek Bailey and the free-form metallic wall of sounds of Keiji Haino, with whom Sharp has performed in the past. Their open and swift communication is another reason to enjoy this clamorous summit. This disc is certainly not for the faint of heart, but is very satisfying for the fierce ones.

JAZZ TOKYO 2005年 09月 09日

Strangely enough for the slinger that he is, the things I like least in Sharp’s oeuvre are his efforts with other
guitarists – I still remember a double whammy of disappointment from the GTR OBLQ trio with David Torn and Vernon Reid, firstly on the CD and then in concert. Unfortunately, Volcanic Island confirms this theory with a series of electric duets (not too well recorded either, with an unpleasantly muffled / distorted sound) that consist of little more than tentative accumulations of tension which never seem to find a target to explode on. The excessive stereo separation between the instrumentalists accents the lack of coherent interplay, as if each player was intent on noodling with his back turned to the other, trying without success to find something of interest. It sounds at times like some cheap cassette made by youngsters and, not having heard Usui until now, I can safely declare that Sharp should try to keep stuff like this off the market and keep his higher profile immaculate. If you really want to appreciate Elliott Sharp’s six-string mastery, go instead for Quadrature.-MR

何かの音楽を連想する奏法や音の連なりを回避する事によって何処にも属さない即興が「フリー」だとするなら、あらゆる奏法やイディオムを抱え込む事 によって、結果的に何処にも属さない即興もまた「フリー」だと言える。ディストーションを効かせて歪んだ音色が魅力のロック・ギターを取り込んで、時に ハード・ロックやブルースロック、プログレッシヴ・ロックの領域に踏み込みながら、どのフィールドからも「フリー」なギタリストの存在はもっと注目されて 良いと思う。鬼怒無月しかりマルク・デュクレしかりスコーチ・トリオしかり。そしてエリオット・シャープもそのひとりと言えるだろうか。
昨年(2004年)7月に二人のデュオを稲毛『キャンディ』で聴いた時は、シャープのチリチリとした即興が前面に出ると臼井がパースペクティヴのある静か な音の壁を「背景」に置いたり(本CDのトラック4や5の前半がそれに近い)と、繊細で彩りのある時間が現出して、その「音響」に引き込まれる思いを抱い た。一方、一昨年(2003年)に吹き込まれた本CDでは、シャープにギザギザと突っかかり、まとわりついてゆく臼井の果敢さがひとつの聴きどころになっ ている。