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Test Pressing
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not drumming, but dancing

Afro, Test Pressing, Dr Rob, Soul, Round Up, 2016, Playlist, Winter

The clip below shows drummer Keiichi Tanaka jamming with one of his inspirations, Tony Allen, with members of Cro-Magnon, and at his last gig with the band, Kingdom Afrocks.

Tanaka-san`s solo LP demonstrates the technique he developed on travels to Senegal, Mali and Morocco. All he learnt under Allen`s wing. Watching Allen “not drumming, but dancing”. Not hitting his drums, but skimming their surface. As if “rippling water”. The record fuses West African Gwana, Benga, and a Congolese lullaby with Japanese Folk traditions like Tenjinbayashi. The Malian N`goni plays alongside indigenous Ainu instruments such as the Tonkori and Mukkur, and Ukouku polyphonic singing.

In this respect, there are similarities with Juzu AKA Moochy`s “Counterpoint” releases. Tanaka-san having guested on several of these, while featured vocalist, Rekpo, is a member of Counterpoint group, Marewrew. But “Keta Iicna Hika” is less House, more Jazz.

The opening track is furious. A demonstration of chops. Tanaka-san`s comments in the liner notes cite ON-U Sound, Tackhead and the early `80s New York Knitting Factory scene. With bass drops, squalls of guitar, and Punk attitude I was gonna say Liquid Liquid and quote Salvatore Principato:

“Stick on skin, stick on stick, stick on metal. It`s the most elemental musical form.”

For the rest of the set however, the drumming is understated. A reduction of Tanaka-san`s beloved Afrobeat. Fela gets covered twice (“Gentleman” & “Observation Is No Crime”). But neither are angry calls to arms. Instead they are Free mediations of pianos Ray Charles riffing, sax and flutes. Yussef Kamaal`s “Black Focus”, but less street, more Blue Note.

Released on CD in Japan late last year, Keiichi Tanaka`s “Keta Iicna Hika” will get a world-wide vinyl-pressing this month, care of Switzerland`s Mental Groove.

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