AMN Reviews: Shiroishi / Golia / Fujioka / Cline – Borasisi (2019; Astral Spirits)

Named after a sun deity appearing in a Kurt Vonnegut novel, Borasisi is a team up between two saxophonists (Patrick Shiroishi and Vinny Golia) and two drummers (Dylan Fujioka and Alex Cline). While the cover art exhibits the signature retro feel of the Astral Spirits label, the music only nods toward the past and is, in essence, a forward-looking spontaneously creative effort. And the album is a grower. Once you get to the fifth or sixth listen, the soulful and outside power of these efforts begin to hit hard as new details emerge.

Recorded live in the studio late last year, the two long tracks (Right Eye Sun and Left Eye Moon) feature simultaneous leads from Shiroishi and Golia, with and without backing from their percussionist co-conspirators. The two saxes ease into a comfortable partnership, filling in the gaps for each other whether the tempo is frenetic or paced. They seamlessly come together and then fly apart into contrapuntal explorations. There are relatively little squealing or extended techniques in play, nor individual attention-seeking efforts.

When done properly, a recording with two drummers can be exquisite, and that is exactly what Fujioka and Cline provide. They effectively merge to the point where it is virtually impossible for the listener to tell where one starts and the other stops. Their long duet at the beginning of Left Eye Moon exemplifies this point, an ever-shifting rhythmic non-pattern that is wildly unpredictable.

Whether intentional or not, this 32-minute album represents a pairing of collaborators from two different generations of free improv – Golia and Cline being the elder statesmen while Shiroishi and Fujioka represent the growing millennial contribution to this loose genre. But there is no sense of passing the torch. Instead, Borasisi is a cooperative alliance of equals – four accomplished improvisers who know how to bring the best out of themselves and each other.