LP ltd to 285. Silkscreened chipboard jacket with obi (textured tan & black), inserts and a postcard. An’archives are thrilled to announce the release of Ricshari, the first LP from Japanese free improvising duo Mai Mao. Consisting of Shizuo Uchida of Hasegawa-Shizuo, Albedo Gravitas, Archeus, Kito Muzukumi Rouber, Terror Shit, UH, etc. on bass, and Kyosuke Terada, of HUH (who have their own release due on An’archives soon), TERROR SHIT, Bay City Rolaz, Praymate, The Obey Unit, etc. on guitar, they’ve previously released two wild cassettes, Curvature Improvement Plan (Haang Niap, 2020) and Folk Dope Rally (2021), both documenting one-take improvisations from live gigs. Ricshari was recorded by Nobuki Nishiyama in January 2021, and is proof, if any was needed, that this duo is one of the most fiercely unique, out-there units currently extant – in Japan, or anywhere, for that matter.
The music of MAI MAO seems to proceed by opposites and juxtaposition, shifting from frantic, hectic runs of splattering note spray to moments of granular stasis, where Uchida and Terada coax their instruments into and out of deep wells of silence, or rest, temporarily, in a lagoon of fermenting fuzz. Spiralling kinetics are largely the order of the day, though – the opener, “Chew a flying flash prayer”, skitters here and there, guitar and bass jumping over one another in games of leapfrog and Twister, finding new ways to perplex and puzzle the listener, and perhaps each other in the process, Uchida and Terada fully committed to the short-circuiting spirit of the moment.
The energy here is hyperactive, but it also speaks of a curious and committed attention to improvisatory responsiveness, one that’s just as likely to fork off into different directions in a split second – it’s real edge-of-the-seat stuff, as though the hands are moving too fast for the mind to follow. That’s all the better, then, to let the gush of genuinely free-thinking, devoted duo improvisation to fly at its most playful and intelligent. File next to the likes of Davey Williams & LaDonna Smith and their TransMuseq companions, or the wickedly perplexing bass-synth/trombone duets of Dave Dove Paul Duo, and you’ve some idea of what’s going on here, provisionally at least, ‘cos this one’s an enthralling, yet welcoming, head-scratcher of the highest calibre.