6-North, Iím Here In My Heart (58:23) Stream Line Records, SLR-0001, 2000 1-5-13 Mita Meguroku, #211 Tokyo, Japan 153-0062 (CD available through Musea records,
http://www.musearecords.com/ as MUSEA FGBG4358.AR) Led by bassist Hideyuki Shima, 6-North is an inventive Japanese fusion ensemble with a big, theatrical sound ó call it Weather Report meets Pink Floyd meets Frank Zappa. Categories and genres are thrown into a mixing bowl on this engaging CD. The group opens with the prelude "Ajikan," an ancient Japanese song played by Bonchiku Hoshi on the exotic, flute-like Shakuhachi. The title track begins, its slow, dissonant funk recalling aspects of Bitches Brew. Pianist Eisuke Kato then takes over for a Keith Jarrett-like jazz tune titled "Inner Crystal." Moving on through the fast-moving figures of the ironically titled "Silence, Darkness" and the highly angular, paradisiacal sounds of "Circular Pinx," the album reaches a climax with the beautiful "Speakless." Shifting, colorful harmonies shift over a 7/8 time signature, setting up a lovely vocal performance by Chizuko Ura. Kato delivers a tasty synth solo and the tune fades out after a clean-toned, fluid workout by guitarist Shinju Odajima. Then on to the guitar-shredder frenzy of "Kundabuffer" and, lastly, the poetic "Where No One Has Gone," with beautiful acoustic guitar playing by Odajima.
All these radical sonic transitions from track to track can be a bit unnerving, but the group does seem to achieve what itís after: an unpredictable set that really takes the listener on a journey. ~David R. Adler
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