GÜNTER MÜLLER/TAKU SUGIMOTO

I am happy if you are happy
For 4 Ears CD 1140

Attaching diverse sounds to an improvisational context can often bring something extra to the music; other times it weakens the overall fabric. This CD offers a few examples of both.

German-Swiss percussionist Müller has been involved with these sorts of electroacoustic experiments since the mid-1980s, while Japanese guitarist Sugimoto has spend the past decade transforming his hard rock psychedelica into a style built around extreme silences. The result is that even with deep listening a little too much of this disc resembles an ambient soundscape, one continuous track of artless guitar patterns and echoing percussive trills.

In truth HAPPY is more than happy-face background music, but the aural landscape is still awfully flat, with too few musical peaks and valleys. Sugimoto may create a certain hypnotic effect as on "Snow Pocket", but only on the ironically titled "Rest and Smile" does he seem to vary his picking pattern. Because of that, what happens in the background often trumps the foreground, notably the electronic buzzes that appear on "Cumulus" or the elongated cymbal scratches on "Bright White". Even on the final track when what sounds like a ticking clock begins to suggest a possible crescendo, it never reaches that climax and the music just drifts off and ends.

If experimental ambient sounds excite you then HAPPY will certainly make you happy. Others will want more blood and passion than is illuminated on this skeletal frame.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Frozen memories 2. Snow Pocket 3. Rest and smile 4. Bright white 5. Cumulus 6. Pitch the clock

Personnel: Günter Müller (electronic MDs, selected drums); Taku Sugimoto (guitar)