Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cassette Review: Patrick Shiroishi "Black Sun Sutra" (Weird Cry Records)

[$5.50 // Edition of 50 //]

The first time that I listened to "Black Sun Sutra" through I thought that the first song had some sort of strings on it, possibly a cello since it was those deeper sounding darker strings.    I always like to listen to everything once through first before I read anything about it in terms of what instruments might be used, so after my first listen I found the Bandcamp link and saw that there was no mention of strings and only saxophones.    Sure, when you know it is a sax it makes sense but if you're just listening without knowing then you'll probably hear the cello like I did.  (Although now I've probably spoiled it for you, robbed you of that opportunity if you've read this)

While the beginning has this singing part which sounds almost like chanting in a monk way, there are not any vocals beyond that.   In fact, beyond that is really just a cassette full of saxophone and that is never a bad thing (I played sax in grade school and high school)   Notes go back and forth like the Flight of the Bumblebee with a controlled chaos and then they get quieter as there is a very slight static in the background.

Another factor within this is that the saxophones seem to be layered as though one is on top of the other, which gives it the idea that a lot can be going on at one time, and to some extent this does remind me of traffic, with everyone sort of sitting around honking their horns.    There is also a flurry that comes through at the start of Side B, which I believe can only be made possibly be the layering.

It isn't until the end of Side B that we hear the saxophone come through quieter, in a more solemn tone with that just note by note playing without all of the layers.    That kind of becomes the stripped down version of what was going on throughout the cassette, as it started with this singular idea then grew into so much more, but then was taken back down to where it started almost.

Perhaps that is the biggest accomplishment of "Black Sun Sutra", is the complexity found in the simplicity.    Here you have basically two saxophones (Though there are other instruments and such making sounds, but those are the main sounds) and yet it feels like an entire orchestra at times.    The way you might imagine it as being note by note in the sense of simply saying it's someone playing a saxophone couldn't be more wrong as it is just so much more than that.     The idea of something so much being made from seemingly so little just proves what a masterpiece Patrick Shiroishi has created.

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