YOSHI WADA Off the Wall (CD EM Records /Edition Omega Point)
Timely, remastered, reissue of this impossible-to-find 1985 album by Wada, which here arrives complete with a bonus composition, ‘Die Konsonanten Pfeifen’, besides the two lengthy parts of ‘Off the Wall’ itself. Wada, of course, joined the Fluxus group when he moved from Japan to NYC in the late ‘60s, and not only studied alongside the likes of La Monte Young but also developed his own very personalised take on improvised drone music via the use of Scottish bagpipes and an organ besides sparingly used percussion. The three pieces here, all spanning over 20 minutes each (and nearer to 28 minutes on the bonus cut), are incredible in their binding of warm and labyrinthine textures with an atmosphere that’s at once all-consuming, powerful and poised for that psychoacoustic peak of ecstasy such music can only ever really aim for. Aided by other musicians, Wayne Hankin (bagpipes), Marilyn Bogerd (adapted organ) and Andreas Schmidt Neri (percussion), Wada’s music retains an earthy quality yet forever reaches for the stratosphere.
As minimal composition works go, Off the Wall, much as bagpipes themselves are of those few instruments that can completely divide people’s opinion, remains a triumph for the field. Now if only somebody would reissue all of Wada’s works once again on vinyl that we can all afford. RJ