Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Improv drummer from Japan

Shoji Hano concert
Wine Cellar
Sat 10 October, 8.45 - 10.45 pm.

This was the last concert of Shoji Hano’s New Zealand tour organised by Martyn Reynolds (of A.C.F.A.) and D.P.A.G. (there is a final Vitamin S-organised workshop this evening). Hano, a super fast but extraordinarily precise Japanese drummer who is part of the global Jazz/ Noise/Improv scene, did five sets with members from a pool of five local musicians.

The event was held in the cosy, intimate, environs of the Wine Cellar’s gig-room. Paul Buckton did the initial warm up for early (ie. punctual) arrivals with a strolling Baileyesque acoustic guitar. He was the replaced by a stunning, understated, but highly nuanced duo performance with Chris O’Connor (drums) and Dean Roberts (electric guitar). O’Connor’s use of scraped and tapped skins, plus clicking sticks rattled against his own molars was a wonderful foil for Robert’s quick bursts of strangled chopped flurries that suddenly erupted only to just as rapidly disappear.

Hano’s performances with O’Connor, Buckton, Jeff Henderson (baritone), Paul Winstanley (electric bass),and Clinton Watkins (electric guitar/electronics) were dazzling displays of concentrated listening and technique. He is an amusing drummer to watch because he appears slightly myopic, looking with intense concentration at the tips of his drumsticks and whatever he is hitting, his head half cocked. You get the sense every nano-second is an aural discovery, yet the total effect is a swirling maelstrom of layered, interlocking hovering sound, a meticulously devised cacophony of constructed-to-be-broken-up patterns.

I’d never been to the Wine Cellar before. Hano and all the other contributors made it a real ear-opening experience. A very special Saturday night.

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