Ikue Mori, Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura “Prickly Pear Cactus”

It’s weird to me how indignant people get about ‘quarantine’ albums and all that. I get that it has/will become a tired narrative, but the truth is that a ton of incredible, moving, and innovative work has come out of the past year (just look at Boomkat’s unbelievable Documenting Sound series). Anyway, Prickly Pear Cactus was recorded in their respective homes in Kobe and New York and the result is powerful and mesmerizing. The title track finds croaking trumpet and glitch-infused electronics riding side-by-side with Fujii’s brilliant piano playing. Textural layers are peeled back and discarded as the piece moves through multiple stages. They achieve so much in only six minutes. Elsewhere, “In The Water” sounds like a dystopian computer simulation gone awry and “Sweet Fish” is oddly peaceful and uncertain. Mori unearths an incredible array of beautiful, crystalline sound and discordant chirps from her laptop, matching Fujii’s range. Meanwhile Tamura has an uncanny ability to make a trumpet sound like anything but a trumpet. On “Mountain Stream,” it took me  to realize what I thought was a wheezing oscillator was actually trumpet. Prickly Pear Cactus is a trip.

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