Morsof [Morning Machine & Soft Musume] - HEAP

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Poseidon
Catalog Number: PRF-006 (Poseidon) /FGBG
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:46:00

Man, oh man, Poseidon and Musea have got it goin' on. The Japanese and French labels have banded together to share their combined wealth of progressive rock and jazz around the world, and are doing it in a big way. The Nippon-Franco juggernaut have been flooding the racks with loads of great music for about two years now, much of it coming from the land of the rising sun. Now, a lot of what comes from Japan tends to be extreme in content and performance, and extremely challenging to unsuspecting progressive rock listeners, because the Japanese tend to lean towards the jazz end of the musical spectrum. Add in the extremely improvisational, experimental nature of their jazzy explorations, and said prog-rockers may find themselves pulling off the headphones, shaking their heads in disappointment and disbelief.

Fortunately, for jazz lovers, the Poseidon-Musea alliance has proven to be a treasure trove. Morsof (derived from Soft Machine, the Canterbury greats, and Morning Musume, a Japanese pop group), a sax/bass/drums trio, now offer up HEAP, a collection of unusual and intriguing musical workouts that will please jazz fans and, in keeping with my first paragraph warning, may scare the sh*t out of finicky progressive rockers. Me, I like it just fine because I have an abiding love for jazz that equals my affinity for all things Steve Hackett, Dream Theater and Neal Morse. Morsof obviously harbor an abiding love for Soft Machine (although the Morning Musume connection seems to be a cursory reference) and wearing that affection on their sleeves, come out blowing in a way that should make their forebears very proud.

HEAP opens with a track that I mentioned in my Fracture Message review a ways back, the brief but noisy "Cos θ," a trio track that spends half its run as a funny, almost funky ensemble romp and the rest as an insane speed rush. "UnderDog's Blues" treads into more familiar territory, opening with a spacey groove and some tasty Rhodes piano, followed by a fuzzed-up bluesy guitar solo, and closing with big band-style horns. "Heap Suite" crosses thirteen minutes and four movements, going from a bass-driven groove to a free-form mid-section comprised primarily of nutsy (insane, again?) improvisation between Rich-style drums, random piano chords and notes, and "Sheep On eXstasy" bleating from the saxophone. Not an easy listen, this part reminds me of beatnik-era improvisations, but that's not meant to be a bad thing because I actually sort of enjoyed those as a kid. "Afro Zone" carries the groove to a whole different level, sounding a lot like the Osibisa and Mandrill I loved while in high school. A very funky piece, "Afro Zone" rolls along on a funked-up bass riff, polyrhythmic percussion, wah-wah guitar, and a big horn section, a soulful groove that we just don't hear enough of any more. "DADA" closes HEAP in grand Brand X fashion, opening with a barrage of rapid-fire notes from sax and drums, then racing into a rocking "suite" that mixes a manic free-form sax attack with some great Jeff Beck-style guitar.

Now, if you're paying attention, you've noticed that my hints that Morsof are a crazy bunch and, listening to HEAP, I stand by my insinuations. That's not a bad thing, though, in jazz or rock - let's not forget Frank Zappa, folks - and it's a damned good thing here. Morsof are skilled and inspired, and HEAP is a heap of wild jazzy fun. Groovy, baby!

Cos θ (1:50) / UnderDog's Blues (7:00) / Heap Suite: HEAP #1/RAIN DROP/Ghost of children/HEAP #2 (13:34) / Afro Zone (8:07) / DADA (12:13)

Mikio Fukushima - alto sax, soprano sax
Norivumi Uchida - bass
Morihide Sawada - drums

Guest musicians:

Yui Ando - guitar
Miyako Kanazawa - piano, keyboards, voice
Yoshiharu Izutsu - guitar
Kenta Hamano - trombone

??? (2000) (cassette)
HEAP (2003)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin JP

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website:
Hits: 867
Language: english


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