Improvised entirely on the 17th of September, 2002, and recorded by Naoaki Kose and mastered by Tatsuya Yoshida (of Ruins fame), Hada Hada reclines in a shower of reverb so consistently thick, weeks are required to scrub the scale deposits off of the tiles. With an effortless precision always looming over guitarist Takayuki Kato's chaotic chordings, Natsuki Tamura's mastery of the trumpet borders on the obscene, bestowing a stranglehold on the instrument evoking Miles Davis and Don Cherry. Satoko Fujii—Tamura's spouse & collaborator, and leader of her own trios and quartets—leaves the piano bench cold for this occasion and makes her debut on synthesizers. With the addition of Kato and drummer Takaaki Masuko, Hada Hada also marks Tamura's & Fujii's first foray into the electric domain, both having exclusively performed with, or led, a dizzying number of Japanese & American free-jazz ensembles. This is not typical electric fusion, however, nothing of the sort. Rather, this is electrified free jazz, sans borders, that continuously negotiates the genre's vertices without ever toppling them.
As noted, Hada Hada's production is rather slick, maybe overly so. A pervasive ambience coats each player with a suffocating cloak—simply turn up the volume to counter this. The title track incorporates a traditional Japanese folk melody, pumped-up and insanely-rendered by Tamura. Preferring a gate-effected snare sound, Masuko's arhythmic delivery supports a fragmented "groove" akin to splitting bedrock during the buildup—the section beginning around 5:10 is striking. In "Incident," Fujii's synthetic chimes descend on the freely-reigning madness like an antidote for acute anxiety. "Sateto" is the longest track at nine minutes, not necessarily indicative of any greater level of exploration on a recording such as this ("Explorer," with its density, probably does just that); Tamura's trumpet penetrates impregnable smoke, a lighthouse beacon warning of impending danger surfacing within a heavy fog bank...when the real danger is the cautioner, himself. The album closes with "Jyonk," an excursive mosaic of dystopian big~band jazz complete with misshapen arpeggios (Kato) and a constantly fluctuating tempo.
While this release clearly serves an artistic purpose, its brushstrokes will not be to everyone's liking: each improvisation is as unique as a pebble of sand, as potent as a bolt of lightning, as superfluous as greasy fast food, and as vital as water. As Charlton Heston calmly said to the dummy in The Omega Man: "It's your move."