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We Think As Instruments

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Album Review

John Tejada and Takeshi Nishimoto's collaboration continues with another low-key but striking album in We Think as Instruments. On the face of it, the combination of varying electronic approaches and jazz-influenced arrangements might suggest the horrible gloop so many mid-'90s routes around techno descended into. But while the guitar/bass/drums parts of the songs are generally tasteful, it's the duo's ear for often unsettling though subtle elements that keeps things from ever being dull. In fact, most listeners would be forgiven for thinking the trebly blips that open the album at the start of "Soft Rain in the Spring" is a skipping CD or corrupt mp3. The album on first blush may seem of a piece with a number of low variations, but it's what they do with those variations that's key. Often even small moments suddenly thrill, such as Nishimoto's triumphant guitar figure toward the close of "Ripples in the Water," the full electronic glaze on the short but memorable "Rush Hour Traffic," or the sudden shift to a full-on "rock" arrangement of sorts on "Long Afternoon." At one point Nishimoto introduces a piece on sarod, a traditional stringed instrument — its haunting tones on "A Letter from the Past" are given energetic heft by the propulsive arrangements, a striking blend of old and new. Tejada's mix of electronic and (assumedly) acoustic drums throughout is one of the strongest elements of the disc — the introduction of a steady 4/4 pulse on "Move" is a great touch after the earlier live breakdowns — while the whole album is sequenced very well, feeling like a slow buildup to activity that breaks free further at many different points, building up to a penultimate climax with "As Far as Forever Goes." In its balance of David Sylvian-circa-Gone to Earth mellowness and the brisk futurism of such new labels as Monika, We Think as Instruments finds a new, strong road.

We Think As Instruments, I'm Not a Gun
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