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Koji Asano - Final Insurance - Collection Vol 2: 1992-1994

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Artist: Koji Asano

Album: Final Insurance - Collection Vol 2: 1992-1994

Label: Solstice

Review date: Sep. 27, 2005

Following on from The Giant Squid, which collected together unreleased pieces from 1997-1998, this latest Asano release collates 12 carefully selected works composed before the release of Asano’s debut album, 1995’s Solstice. As such, the fragments on Final Insurance often seem to lack definition, apparently preparatory maneuvers prior to the final take off. But even at this embryonic stage, Asano’s appetite for diversity is apparent, as is his ability in most, if not all of the styles attempted. His range for musical adventure is only partially matched by the various locations of his muse. Always on the move, from the age of 18 to 20 Asano resided in Saitama, London and Tokyo. These locales undoubtedly have a bearing on the resulting artefacts. Most obviously, it’s hard to imagine the exotic wildlife sounds featured on “Evening Falls,” a field recording from Saitama, being unveiled in the jungles of Brixton or Chelsea.

It is when Asano sits at the grand piano to sculpt his most delicate ivory shapes that the heart and not the head is finally breached. The sheer beauty of cascading notes comprising “Humidity” makes it seem a shame that he has so many other strings to his bow. Asano’s few forays on guitar are nice enough but come over as bouts of Derek Bailey worship. Still, when this reviewer was 18, he was doing poor imitations of Screeching Weasel songs so it’s all relative.

Too often Asano tries to cover too much ground, a pattern that has endured into his current outpourings. Usually, this type of document of a composer’s formative years is a useful means of gauging development and maturity, but with Asano his strengths and weaknesses run throughout his work like a message through a stick of Brighton rock.

By Spencer Grady

Other Reviews of Koji Asano

Absurd Summer / Gondola Odyssey / Piano Suite 1

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