AMN Reviews: Ikizukuri – Hexum (2018; Zona Watusa)

Ikizukuri is another group entering a sparsely populated (but growing) soundspace – free jazz / heavy metal crossovers with no electric guitar. And the most remarkable thing about these efforts is not just how well they work, but that the music (so far) has been consistently stellar. The group is a three piece featuring Julius Gabriel on sax and electronics, Gonçalo Almeida on bass, and Gustavo Costa on drums. Both Almeida and Costa have played with Rodrigo Amado, to give a taste of where they are coming from, though they sport much longer resumes. Julius Gabriel exerts himself on the sax, staying comfortably left of center.

Hexum is a cassette, the first side of which consists of 10 short tracks (most are under two minutes). These bursts of energy feature metal-inflected speed drumming along with sax wailing. When not playing along with the drums, Almeida creates dense walls, drones, and just about everything in between. There are melodies and structure to these pieces, but over these are discordant sax explorations – some sticking to the structures while others are aggressive improv.

The high point of the album is the 18-minute title track, which begins with subtle atmospherics and slowly builds in intensity and variety. Costa once again provides rock-oriented drumming, but with unusual beats. This builds into a noisy, pounding crescendo. The piece ends with slow bass strumming accompanied by what sounds like layers of processed sax.

While hard-hitting, Hexum is also a pleasant mixture of disjoint styles. Strong recommendation.