Dusted Reviews

Tamio Shiraishi & Sean Meehan - Summer Concerts

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Tamio Shiraishi & Sean Meehan

Album: Summer Concerts

Label: Old Gold

Review date: Aug. 31, 2006

Sometimes the club cannot contain the music. It darts out doors and windows, becoming part of the street, the city. And sometimes musicians sidestep this possibility and make the street their stage. No-Neck’s done it. Sonic Youth’s done it. But it remains to be seen whether either band shares the intent proffered by Tamio Shiraishi and Sean Meehan. Moving the music outdoors either adds an extra player – the environment – or strives to render the banal in an exciting new way. Places and sights rendered common by commuter eyes are hopefully given bright new clothes when two men sit, stand and make music amongst them.

Summer Concerts, like its Fusetron predecessor, In the City, gives one two sides, the same duo in two different locations – under the Manhattan Bridge and in the municipal garage of the 79th Street boat basin. Shiraishi and Meehan make and unmake in the midst of concrete and asphalt, glass and steel, intermittent converse and ebullient laughter. Horns honk, trains rumble overhead. Cars accelerate and decelerate. Breath and brass send struggling notes into the air to fight it out with the environs. Meehan responds in kind: aping his surroundings, transforming whatever he’s got at his disposal into pure urban mimesis. A snare shell is rubbed into brake pad screech; a cymbal is worn down to the elemental metal and fire that birthed it. Who’s playing what? Who’s playing where? Who’s playing whom? Easily a sonic version of Abbott & Costello’s absurdist “Who’s on First?,” these are wholly questionable questions: When one knows what’s coming, can confusion be a legitimate part of the listening experience?

As is often the case, the mind imposes shape on the shapeless. Horn honks become cars; a train reveals itself in its rumble. Talking becomes one and two and three people – and then dozens. The rest of the picture colors itself in, but one’s left with Shiraishi and Meehan. The latter – a drummer usually without a drum kit; sitting over a snare and coaxing confusion straight from its shell. The music isn’t the only thing cribbed of its context; instruments are also dealt different attributes. Suddenly, the only familiar sounds are the ones heard outside of the musical experience: the real world. And then Shiraishi breathes into his sax and gives the blur a fleeting definition.

It has been argued that “music” is only as good as the ideas that prompt impression into action. A testament to ideation’s power, Summer Concerts delineates music-as-idea in real time. Whether held close with headphones, or played on the stereo with the windows open – to add yet another textural level – the sounds Shiraishi and Meehan send out into the space that surrounds them have the distinction of being exquisitely well formed and still seemingly something of the mind’s fabric. What is heard is also thought – and vice versa. Making preternaturally powerful improvised music is difficult enough; doing that while dispatching philosophical wattage on the music-making process itself makes Summer Concerts a sort of guidebook that anyone interested in sound’s potency will be carrying around for years to come.

By Stewart Voegtlin

Read More

View all articles by Stewart Voegtlin

Find out more about Old Gold

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.