Masayuki Takayanagi – Archive I.

Slowly making my way through this mammoth 5 disc box of Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit.  The music is made up of live dates recorded over the period of 1977-1978 with consistent personnel.  If you are at all familiar with any New Direction Unit stuff then you know what to expect: adventurous, dense, austere, dry, buring and slashing free music with a very high level of execution.  I have literally had my breath taken away by certain passages, and being the jaded free music fan that I am (heh), I think it’s saying something.  My path to the music of Takayanagi was via the late great Kaoru Abe, a free spirited idiosyncratic alto player who lived fast and well, you know.  I first heard these two in action on the album Mass Projection, which is a total skull crusher from end to end.  It’s actually quite a frightening feat to endure the whole banana.  There’s perhaps a bit more subtlety on the box here (and on the duo’s subsequent Gradually Projection) but that ain’t saying much.  There are only 500 copies of Archive I in existence, so you know what to do.  And let’s hope that “I” in the title is a harbinger of good things to come.