The second recording by drummer Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up follows the heralded Actionspeak (2010, 482 Music), and continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, including guitarist Mary Halvorson who seems to be showing up everywhere these days, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.
As a drummer and leader, Fujiwara steers traffic via supple accents, crashing cymbals, and polyrhythmic fills while dropping a few bombs along the way. Regardless, it's a group-focused underpinning that yields the rewarding results. Set by imagery of social chaos, temperance and regimentation; spanning an abundance of offsetting time signatures, the hornists' staggered pulses and peppery unison choruses also intimate a curvy perimeter.
The musicians smooth out the rough-hewn parts with a glistening sheen; an attribute that is not always the case within these semi-structured type programs. Brian Settles (tenor saxophone) and Jonathan Finlayson's (trumpet) bristling improvisations are clustered by a string of micro-themes, secured by Trevor Dunn's booming bass patterns. Hence, shifting plots interweave throughout the divergent track mix.
"For Ours" is a piece that highlights the band's emotive sensibilities and complex movements often accelerated by Settles' ricocheting lines, segueing the arrangement into a cheery vibe. And on "Smoke-Breathing Lights," Halvorson's trademark blend of odd-tunings, animated single note flurries and swerving notes ride atop a buoyant groove, engineered with ascension and edgy deconstruction metrics. Here, the drummer projects a broad undercurrent due to his swarming tom rolls, perpetuating an open-forum for the soloists' expansive exchanges.
Fujiwara tenders a multidimensional game-plan that is not complacent in scope. Marked by undulating currents and spirited soloing jaunts, the album sustains interest from start-to-finish. He lays out a compelling framework, containing gobs of mind candy for the attentive listener. (Official release date: May 1, 2012)