Top 20 Releases of 2017: No.16 – te_ri – Kasugai Low Gravity

Guitar/drum duo te_ri’s second album is a surprisingly affecting piece of rhythmically unpredictable minimalist math rock. With the group’s members now based at opposite ends of the country in northeastern Iwate and southwestern Okayama, the chemistry between them is nevertheless still there – in fact it seems to have matured in some key ways since 2013’s Far East Debug, with a greater tenderness and emotion creeping into these instrumental songs.

The influence of Burmese music also seems to have affected the chords and melodies, the fruits of guitarist Kyuju Murakami’s travels to Burma. His clean guitar tones, unmolested by the batteries of effects pedals that serve as a crutch for experimental rock bands, tell complex stories through notes and rhythm alone. Takashi Katayama’s drums, meanwhile, function more as an answering voice to Murakami’s guitar than as a simple beat-keeper, slipping with a jazz-man’s combination of looseness and control through the music’s sonic spaces.

Coming in at around 26 minutes for the album’s nine songs, with most hovering around the 3-minute mark, Kasugai Low Gravity is also an economical album, never indulging any of its ideas for longer than necessary or falling back on jam band clichés. For all its complexity, then, it remains a fresh listening experience, and for all its sparseness, it remains densely packed with ideas.

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