AMN Reviews: Tatsuya Nakatani & Shane Parish – Interactivity (2020; Cuneiform Records)

This, the second release from the duo of percussionist Nakatani and guitarist Parish, is an unusual amalgam of styles. The former is well within the loose boundaries of what might be considered avant-garde, with his use of bowed gong, drums, cymbals, and singing bowls. The latter is one of the most consistently innovative finger-picking acoustic guitarists in a generation. Recorded from a 2018 performance, Interactivity juxtaposes the nonstop and freely-improvised scraping, rubbing, and banging of Nakatani with the somewhat more structured approach of Parish for a wild ride over three long tracks.

In particular, Nakatani sounds as if he is playing a junkyard, with crashes and battering that are both subtle and jarring. Parish plays his acoustic in between bluegrass and folk styles with heavy doses of his unique unclassifiable elements. While not afraid to head outside and approach chaos or use extended techniques, he also strums and picks in accordance with discernable themes. These rarely last long, but provide a grounding for excursions by both Nakatani and himself. All of this unpredictability develops into a thick tension that is virtually impossible to ignore as the album progresses.

In short, if you are attuned to free improv, guitar, and percussion, Interactivity is a must-have. There just isn’t much precedent for this recording as Nakatani and Parish stretch their respective instruments to the breaking point and beyond.