Masayuki Takayanagi : Eclipse
This seems to be the year of Masayuki Takayanagi, with several reissues and rediscoveries of the late free-jazz guitarist’s work. Eclipse (Shinshoku in Japan) is perhaps the most remarkable, a 1975 album originally only barely released, then lost in the mists of time. The Iskra label originally chose to release only 100 copies of the LP due to expected demand for the upcoming April is the Cruelest Month album from ESP Disk — which wasn’t released until 20 years later since ESP went under. Eclipse naturally became a massively expensive collectors’ item, and the master tapes had been lost. Until this year, that is, and now this reissue, available from the venerable PSF label, packages the CD in a miniature replica of the original LP sleeve, a nice touch.
Recorded just a few weeks after the aforementioned April… session, Eclipse sees Takayanagi’s New Direction group presenting two sessions (originally sides A and B of the LP), taking two approaches. The first session is subtitled “Gradually Projection,” the second “Mass Projection,” which provides some hints as to what to expect. Throughout, the players push their instruments in unexpected directions, doing justice to the group’s moniker. Takayanagi, of course, contributes his unique electric guitar bursts, while Kenji Mori plays alto sax, flute, and recorder, filling in empty spaces. The rhythm section of Nobuyoshi Ino on bass and Hiroshi Yamazaki on drums is fierce and wild.
The first two tracks here are parts one and two of the first session, and while they’re subtitled “Gradually Projection” you shouldn’t take that to mean that the music is calm. Over the course of the two parts the ensemble does meander their way slowly through the proceedings, but they nonetheless generate a respectably dense assemblage of sounds. Clattering percussion, squeaking and squawking sax, and more all surface and submerge
The second session, subtitled “Mass Projection”, is savage from the start, 25 minutes of dense churning, filled with fraught guitar emissions, sax blare, and a constantly moving rhythm section. Some might consider this noise, and in 1975 it would, along with April is the Cruelest Month, have placed the New Direction Unit outside most frames of reference.