AMN Reviews: Patrick Shiroishi – Tulean Dispatch (2017; Mondoj)

Saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi wrote and recorded Tulean Dispatch in the weeks leading up to last Fall’s U.S. election. This solo recording is his response to increasing reports of hate crimes, filtered through the lens of someone whose parents were held in concentration camps.

Consisting of four tracks totaling just over 30 minutes, the album incorporates drones, frenetic playing, and various points in between. Shiroishi’s use of subtle reverb (perhaps due to the room in which the album was recorded) provides a degree of darkness, and his timbre exquisitely contributes to the feel of each track.

The dominant emotions evoked by Tulean Dispatch are anger and passion. The Screams of the Father is a five-and-a-half minute piece that starts with a discordant blast and rarely deviates far from that origin point. Form and Void, on the other hand, begins with a deliberately-paced series of long-held notes and droning themes. Shiroishi works these for several minutes to a crescendo, and then releases the tension. The latter two-thirds of the track builds up to plaintive wails and grinding blasts, an emotive shaking of one’s fist at the sky. The album ends with The Flowers and Candles are Here to Protect Us, a short, melancholy piece that provides a degree of resignation, acceptance, or perhaps a just calm conclusion as Shiroishi comes to terms with his frustration.

Even when not viewed as a protest album, Tulean Dispatch is a singular release that takes solo sax in a number of interesting new directions. But knowledge of the conceptual origins of Shiroishi’s efforts adds further layers to the understanding of his iconoclastic endeavors. Highly recommended.