Hideo Yamaki & Bill Laswell: Untaken Path

Untaken Path

Untaken Path is collision and collusion in one, an ad hoc meeting of drummer Hideo Yamaki and bassist Bill Laswell. Yamaki is a chameleonic musician, having worked across genres and continents and overlapping with many of Laswell’s past collaborators, including John Zorn, Bernie Worrell, and Hosono Haruomi, thus making him an inevitable, if ephemeral, partner in spacetime.

This duo gives fresher meaning to the term “drum ‘n’ bass,” stripping the rudimentary rhythmic expectations of the form by opening it to possibilities of unhindered emotion. And this is where both players excel: one by deepening the grooves laid before him, the other by grinding them to an even keel. They specialize in laying groundwork, doing so with such a feel for melody and color that full structures stand by the end of their exhalation. As they rack up the intensity, each finds an unlocked door in the other and proceeds through it, linking ouroboroses of metal, skin, and sweat. The locked-in jam that emerges is no small feat of confluence, but the result of a mutual regard that feels inherent to the context of this flame. They are the kindling shifting beneath the logs, sending up sparks with their audio sacrifice. Over the course of 15 and a half minutes, transformations occur second by second, Laswell’s enhancements rapid-fire one moment and glassine the next. It’s as if he and Yamaki were searching blindly through darkness, relying only on the sound of each other’s voices to guide them toward the light of a mutual ending which, when it does reveal itself, contracts with substance. There is pain but also healing, teetering but also equilibrium, which by the end of the performance reveals itself to be a reentry into its original spark. This is the solar system in a petri dish, spilled until it collects in the gutter of a black hole, only to be born again on the other side. Fantastic.

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