(Recommended Records)

It’s pretty difficult to appraise this union of violinist (cum voice) Fukushima — formerly with After Dinner and Volapük — and a man whose ascension to a relative fame, including collaborations with the likes of Hamid Drake and Elliott Sharp, has been associated to the distinctiveness of his Frankenstein guitar — a modified Sardinian — and his friendship with Pat Metheny. The latter owns an analogous instrument built for him by an Italian luthier upon Angeli’s specifics.

The tracks of Itsunomanika were recorded live in Bologna and Faenza (Italy) in 2010. The risk for players in a similar situation lies in feeling forced to flabbergast the audience with technical effects and picturesque bells and whistles. It didn’t happen here, but this does not necessarily imply a particularly memorable music. The duo recurs to copious quantities of spaciously reverberating folk-ish lines spiced by a few dissonant tricks and fairly compliant vocals. The influences might range from Iva Bittová to Fred Frith, Fukushima’s accents occasionally reminding us of Tenko Ueno (a never-enough sung former Frith partner, in fact) and, why not, Amy Denio. However, comparing this stuff to any of the aforementioned artists is like swearing to the gods. The infrequent appearance of thrumming noises and distorted chords doesn’t cause panic attacks, the pair’s preferences immediately reverting to easily palatable aural food.

Mind you: aesthetically speaking this is not a bad record, although the general impression is that of something conceived to satisfy rather than stimulate, lacking the poignancy and sufferance typical of the most significant research. The bulk of this CD comes dangerously close to the kind of establishment-pleasing semi-experimental jargon — framed in “exotic postcard” contexts — that makes concert organizers and indulgent audiences oh-so-delighted, as demonstrated by the rapturous applause at the end of each piece. In this house, much more is needed for serious emotions.

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