Despite the fact that the title of this project was cleverly selected out of consideration of the performance venue (i.e., an Aikido dojo) rather than actual programmatic musical intent, the adroitly improvised live music on this work nevertheless does conjure a fair share of the psychological drama (if not the physical) of an old Kurosawa samurai movie duel between master swordsmen.
The two musical protagonists, Krispen Hartung (on nylon-string guitar and laptop) and Ted Killian (on electric guitar synth and live loops), parry and weave - often as though in extreme slow motion - through the course of three tracks (totaling slightly over the fifty-minute mark) with a rare, almost perfectly matched skill and simpatico.
The textures that Hartung and Killian produce are often seismic and dark (you will definitely want to have your subwoofer turned on to hear all the tectonic lows). However, many of the surface gestures are frequently delicate, smallish and subtle, with bright flashes that skitter by so quickly that you might miss them entirely if you are not attentive.
Moreover, this work is not background music for casual listening or mult-tasking. On the contrary, it requires a rigorously disciplined attention span to discern and appreciate its nuances and worth. However rare this might be, it is also rare for such formally "free" music to inhabit such an emotionally and psychologically rich reality - particularly in the field of "electronic" music.
While obvious moments of traditional guitarist "flash" may be fewer and further between within this work, the sense of an unrelenting, volcanic, smoldering heat and intense musical strategic mind-game is everywhere evident.
Note: This work was recorded live on August 26, 2006 at 3 Shapes Aikido dojo, Boise, Idaho. These performances were part of the show, "Mojo at the Dojo: Experiments of Sound", also part of an ongoing series of showcase performances sponsored by the owner of the dojo, AlejAndro Anastasio, and the Boise Experimental Music Festival.