The first two pieces draw heavily on Korean and Japanese Shinto musical traditions. 'Pinari' takes off like a rocket - Sakkal's raucous, keening alto saxophone improvisations ride over waves of gongs, taiko drums, and seething, hissing electronics. I particularly enjoyed the way this piece ebbed and flowed - with each player getting the opportunity to step into the musical foreground. Sakkal switches to a tart-sounding sopranino saxophone for the somewhat slower-paced 'Yatai Bayashi.' Here, the electronics take a bit of a back seat to Yamami's intricate percussion. The trio explores aspects of traditional Filipino kulintang music on 'Binalig.' Opening with a lengthy electronics / percussion duo, the piece slowly moves through several distinct phases before settling into a strangely funky groove from which Sakkal launches a particularly fiery alto saxophone solo.
The two jazz pieces on "Both Far and Near" are also quite effective, despite the trio's unusual instrumentation. To their credit, they don't attempt to 'jazz up' either Coltrane's 'The Drum Thing' or Keith Jarrett's 'Spirits 16.' Instead, they interpret both tunes from their own standpoint, and succeed in creating music of great force and beauty as a result. Jarrett's ballad, 'Spirits 16,' is basically a duet between Sakkal's fiery alto and Yamami's gongs and bells, though Ariza judiciously uses live sampling to add several layers of saxophone to certain sections of the piece. The overall effect is almost breathtaking. The Coltrane piece develops slowly, with Yamami's drums and Ariza's electronics gradually building after Sakkal (on the alto again) states the theme. Obviously a feature for Yamami, he doesn't make the mistake of trying to duplicate Elvin Jones' performance on the original - his pauses and silences effectively created tension and interest. Oddly, this piece is almost indistinguishable, in some ways, from the folk music-inspired pieces on "Both Far and Near". There's a reverent, almost ritualistic, quality here that speaks to Coltrane's musical legacy as eloquently as any number of straight-up jazz renditions of the piece.