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Album Review

The Offsite space in Tokyo is a small room located in a residential area. Music there is, for community reasons, required to be performed at very low volumes. This set of strictures, far from being an unnecessary hindrance, plays right into the hands of a generation of improvisers who prefer a quiet intensity to the raging maelstroms of their forebears. Foldings finds four such musicians, three from Japan, one from England, engaged in a delicate live performance that is as much about space and silence as it is about notes. Nakamura's no-input mixing board provides the paper-thin hums and drones used as the fragile framework through much of the disc, softly adorned by Sugimoto's occasional strums or Wastell's ethereal scrapings. Akiyama, normally a guitarist, here is represented on turntable (and air duster!), providing a hushed rhythm of clicks and scratches. The effect in its entirety is like walking into an almost quiescent factory where one can barely hear the scurryings of activity off in the corners, activity that remains difficult to discern even when you think you're right on top of it. It's both alien and inviting, integrating itself into the room with a surprising naturalness. By exercising restraint and stripping out any extraneous sounds, this quartet achieves a fine and complex level of probity generally missed by more flamboyant improvisers. Foldings is an extremely tasty effort, easily recommendable to fans of the quiet improv scene.

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