Daizo – RareBit

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When musicians also happen to be visual artists, it's only a matter of time before those creative methods start to overlap. Recording as RareBit, Justin Hopkins pens compositions with broad strokes, coloring outside the lines while allowing his arrangements to retain control of the sonic splatters that fall toward the edges of the canvas. Free jazz serves as a loving mentor all throughout Daizo, seeing itself within the new school electronic atmospheres that envelop live instrumentation.

“No New Wave” slowly ushers in this experience with guitar riffs in reverse that melt into a series of buzzes and computer blips, which are held in check by the hard snap of the drum and polyrhythmic rim shots. The unbridled gallop of “Running Tangles” snatches the listener out of their shoes with a relentless 4/4 march that's pushed along by a frenzied bass line, strategic handclaps, and curious crunches buried within the mix. A wailing synthesizer walks away with the solo that the lead guitarist usually gets as elegant vocal cries carry this selection home. “Mt. Weather” begins with calming waves of ambience, record static, and rainmakers trapped in echo chambers. A drum session slowly forms and eventually returns us to the same pace found within the previous song. This is the fraternal twin to “Running Tangles,” more joyous and carefree than its sibling.

On an album full of strikingly beautiful moments, “Emergence” still manages to stand out. Its xylophone improvisations soar over wafting chords that bend in pitch and beats that sputter and churn underneath. It could have been a mess in someone else's hands, but RareBit's instincts never steer the listener wrong. It takes a very attentive ear to capture the sensitivity on display in “Convergence,” where alternate takes and false starts are chopped up and repositioned. These jumbled and seemingly disparate harmonies slowly reconfigure themselves until they are on one accord. The progression is so natural that it's not until you're already in the midst of the performance that you realize a song has been born.

This is what makes Daizo such a captivating listen: the spontaneous musicianship mirrors structured compositions so closely that the connection between the players is damn near telekinetic. Justin Hopkins has created a vibrant vision with this release, its colors leaving stains on your frontal lobe long after the last piece comes to an abrupt halt.