Nonplace Records 2012
It's been ten years since Berlin-based musician Burnt Friedman first teamed up with Can percussionist and drummer Jaki Liebezeit on the opening release in their Secret Rhythms series, and this collaboration has generated three more albums, the more recent published last year, and four EPs, and has seen the pair tour together quite extensively. While Friedman continued to release solo records during that time, they remained, until now, quite different from his work with Liebezeit.
Bokoboko, a Japanese word meaning 'uneven' or 'hollow-sounding', sees Friedman adopt a similar rhythm-led concept to that of the Secret Rhythms series.With his latest solo record, Burnt Friedman distances himself from overtly electronic music to embrace a resolutely more rhythm centric sound reminiscent of his on-going collaboration with Jaki Liebezeit. Whilst he plays a wide array of instruments here (guitars, organ, synths, sampler...), the album's primary structure is based on his extensive use of prepared oil and steel drums, pans and traditional drums. Liebezeit's influence is very clear right from the start as Friedman opts for progressive hypnotic patterns with odd time signatures and non-linear evolutions, and emulate some of the Can drummer's unique style, especially in the way he continuously replicates his themes as to create resonance.
This album marks quite a departure for Friedman's solo work as he distances himself from overtly electronic music and embraces organic and acoustic forms much more drastically than on any of his previous solo outings, yet the occasional bursts of effects or processed textures which find a place amongst Friedman's intricate patterns, at the beginning of Uzu or in the closing moments of Rimuse 3 for instance, appear all the more effective.
Once again, Friedman relies on the help of a handful of trusted Nu Dub Players collaborators (reed player Hayden Chisholm, guitarist Joseph Suchy, bass player Daniel Schroeter) plus David Franzke, who contributes field recordings throughout, and Berlin-based Japanese artist Takeshi Nishimoto who plays sarod, a traditional Indian string instrument, on two tracks, but their respective performances often appear to be pushed slightly to the back of the sonic field, with only sporadic elements allowed alongside the percussions. Only when the pace slows down and percussions become more sparse, on Deku No Bo or Mura predominantly, or on the opening sequence of the title track for instance, is there enough space for other instruments to filter through. Chisholm infuses Deku No Bo with wonderfully worm clarinet tones and breezier textures on Mura, while guitars also provide the latter with earthy sounds in its middle section.
Burnt Friedman has long been a fervent adept of rhythmic forms, and has, through his solo work or with Flanger or the Nu Dub Players, continuously striven to develop this particular aspect, but his on-going collaboration with Jaki Liebezeit has irremediably shifted the balance between rhythm and musical components towards the former. Bokoboko is perhaps not entirely as successful as the Secret Rhythms series, as Friedman at times struggles to maintain the interest over the whole course, but it is still, largely, a very successful record in its own right.
01. Rimuse 2
03. Deku No Bo
05. Totan Yane
06. Tom Tom Keppo
09. Rimuse 3