by Phil Freeman,

July 24, 2023

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I’ve been listening to electric violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s music for over 20 years. The first time I went to New York’s Vision Festival, I saw his group the Far East Side Band, who combined instruments from multiple Asian countries (the Japanese shakuhachi, the Korean gayageum) into a kind of world fusion jazz that got shockingly loud at times. He’s also worked with William Parker, Anthony Braxton, and Henry Threadgill, among others. On this album, he’s joined by electric guitarist Anders Nilsson and drummer Michael T.A. Thompson for a collection of cranked-up fusion pieces that sit somewhere between James “Blood” Ulmer and 75 Dollar Bill. Hwang’s violin is fed through a whole chain of effects to almost psychedelic effect. The closing track, “Friends Forever,” is the shortest, a lovely and gentle blues ballad written in tribute to departed musical comrades.