With a long, and long unsung career to his credit, Richard Crandell, Oregonian innovator of the African mbira (“the sacred instrument of Zimbabwe,” he writes) reaches across the nearest ocean to build a Pacific Bridge anchored on the other side by Masumi Timson (regular guest member of Portland-based “little orchestra” Pink Martini) on Japan´s equally ancient and sacrosant koto. Crandell´s two albums on John Zorn´s Tzadik, Mbira Magic and Spring Steel, are among the label´s most cherished. The two met when she appeared as part of a koto ensemble playing a local event.
Though utterly hypnotic, Pacific Bridge is far from New Age chill music to be played while enjoying a relaxing couple´s massage. The duo are not afraid to wander close to the precipice of dissonance in search of breathtaking harmonic vistas, as they range between composition and improvisation. The metal tabs and pitched strings resonanting against wooden boards lull the mind into a trance with circular repetition (particularly on the two part “MIdnight in Oregon”) while their bendy poesy picks at the cerebrum with pinpoint intelligence. Crandell and Timson convey the complexity of philosophy with the agreeable undertone of pop-song refrain. One of the sweetest and most gratifying duets of the year.