AMN Reviews: Sontag Shogun – Absent Warrior, Abandoned Battlefield (Palaver Music)

Sontag Shogun is a very corporeal project in which very pretty keyboard melodies are caressed and oppressed by organic and electronic sounds, resulting in a very different jazz and a very unusual ambient. It consists of Ian Temple on piano and organ, Jesse Perlstein on laptop and Jeremy Young on assorted machinery, including oscillators and reel-to-reel tapes. Recorded at Williamsburg venue Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, I´ll stick my neck out and guess the piano is composed beforehand and the ambience improvised on the spot.

The five tactile atmospheres are discreet and tasteful, with the exception of some heavy breathing on “Chorgan” that no decent citizen should have to be subjected to. This live performance is both cozily and curiously intimate. The piano reassures, the close-miked, magnified sound scattering bemuses. Perlstein and Young lob bubbles of found sound and wave ribbons of electricity at the piano player, even rattle a few chains at him, but this gentle heckling never causes Temple to lose his composure. They even spray him with a burst of machine gun fire. On “Musk Ox”, Temple´s piano is treated with much more deference for a dignified and bittersweet closing elegy.

Stephen Fruitman