READY FOR SOMETHING NEW? Ryan Choi: Whenmill, Three Dancers

Just when you thought there was nothing new and exciting to hear, along comes Hawaiian artist Ryan Choi. He plays the baritone ukulele, but don’t think that means Don Ho or The Tiki Room. This rich sounding string instrument in the hands of Choi turns into a left of center prism of sounds, rhythms and moods on these two solo eps.

Whenmill has three tunes of five minutes each. “Quixano” delivers hints of Pat Metheny, Asia, Bach and abstract impressions as Choi picks and strums with rich textures. “Inn Blue” mixes a variating bass line with one digit and modern classical pickings, while the title track has gentle and reflective thoughts, use of space and strong changes in dynamics with chords and single notes.

Three Dancers has Choi including percussion and electronics for the three songs. “Perparations I and IV” mix flat picking taps and assured chords with dashes of blues and Japanese gardens. The nine minute “Apollon at Eros” is fluid and frisky, mixing hints of the Delta with exciting percussion. The closing “Three Dancers” has Choi teamed with electronics that is either feeding back or looping guitar sounds, so it seems as if he is playing to a mirror of himself.

Ideas this fresh and intriguing are bound to inspire and confound. In a solo format it is overwhelmingly fresh. It would be fascinating to see him in a jazz-styled format to see what symbiosis could happen. The most exciting new strings since Lionel Loueke.















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