Motoro Faam: "...and Water Cycles"

“Water cycles” becomes the thematic springboard for a multi-hued travelogue with Japanese outfit Motoro Faam as the host. The sophomore effort from Mizukami Ryuta, Kobara Daisuke, and Kato Ayumi is a brash electronic-classical fusion that boldly mixes samples and field recordings (water sounds predominate naturally), acoustic instrumentation (primarily piano, violin, and percussion), and electronic production techniques. Imagination abounds—sometimes too much so—as the group tackles seven pieces teeming with abrupt shifts in mood and tempo, piano sprinkles suggestive of water run-off, and lush string passages that are as stately as they are beautiful.

Be prepared for a wild ride as the trio shifts gears from elegiac classicism to bursts of noise in the same breath: over its eight-minute span, “and Precipitation” segues from classical chamber writing to abstract collage to some fractured, water-soaked take on piano-based R'n'B to minimal glitch-funk before finally coming to rest in a splatter-fest collapse. It's impressive, yes, but also exhausting and one sometimes wishes the group would explore a given idea for longer instead of mixing it up with two or three others. The group also opts for maximum density when keeping it simpler typically brings greater rewards; “and Infiltrations,” for instance, would satisfy more had its John Adams-styled piano patterns resounded alone minus the overbearing presence of water samples. “and Subsurface Flows” pays tribute—by design one presumes—to Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic by submerging beneath the waves a string-based hymn much like the elegiac Episcopal hymn “Autumn” that the onboard chamber group played when the ship sank in 1912; even the track's fifteen-minute length renders it a microcosm of Bryars' seventy-three-minute treatment. Motoro Faam allows the relatively uncluttered arrangement to unfold without interruption and consequently the piece—tellingly—ends up being perhaps the album's most rewarding.

May 2008