Flower-Corsano Duo: “The Four Aims”

In my ignorance, the last time I blogged about the Flower-Corsano Duo, I wrote some stuff about Mick Flower’s instrument, the shahi baaja, and described it, as per the press-release, as a "Japanese electric dulcimer/autoharp".

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In my ignorance, the last time I blogged about the Flower-Corsano Duo, I wrote some stuff about Mick Flower’s instrument, the shahi baaja, and described it, as per the press-release, as a “Japanese electric dulcimer/autoharp”.



Grappling with the marvel that is the duo’s second (I think, anyway) CD, “The Four Aims”, I’ve been doing a little unreliable research to try and work out whether the Japan Banjo which Flower plays here is the same as a shahi baaja, and I think they may be pretty similar. Here’s what Wiki says about the shahi baaja, which suggests it’s an Indian instrument, an electric dulcimer, inspired by a Japanese one. And here’s a “Japanese banjo” – an Indian instrument from the first half of the 20th Century.

If nothing else, they make a similarly intense racket, if “The Four Aims” and its predecessor, “The Radiant Mirror” are anything to go by. Flower is part of one of the British music scene’s secret cache of great bands, the improv-drone ensemble Vibracathedral Orchestra. Chris Corsano is a free drummer seen in all kinds of set-ups, most recently alongside Bjork, of all people.

This set begins more or less where “The Radiant Mirror” left off, with “I, Brute Force?”, an immense, expressive noise jam that sounds very roughly like an avant-punk response to Hendrix’s take on “The Star-Spangled Banner”. I have no idea what Flower is doing, whether he’s playing with precise virtuosity or just cranking up the machine to spit random fire, but it sounds amazing.

Last time out, they more or less kept this up for the duration. But “The Four Aims” is more varied, and so “The Three Degrees Of Temptation” privileges Corsano’s hyperactive percussive scuffle. Then, the final three tracks form a sort of raga suite where the Indian origins of Flower’s instrument become most apparent: during the outstanding “The Beginning Of The End”, especially, I’m reminded of some Ravi Shankar I’ve been listening to recently (a reminder, maybe, of how reference points change with your own listening habits more than the actual creative evolution of musicians).

By the end, though, and “The Main Ingredient”, the firestorm is back, and Flower is channelling Sonny Sharrock again. There’s some other stuff on the Flower/Corsano Myspace. Not sure how often they update, because Tom’s one of their three friends, but check it out.

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