“Live at Microscope Gallery” (Phinery)

If you’re going to improvise something, you better do it right, bucko! None of this endless guitar soloing – that doesn’t cut it unless you’ve just had a hashish-and-psilocybin breakfast, and even then it gets old after about five minutes. No, no – you need a thinking person’s improvisation, one rooted in jazz and composition. Music is for the brain – forget about the heart! (Wait, that can’t be completely right …)

So if you want to get on my good side with an improv set, do it at an art gallery, where everyone is quietly sipping their wine while reclining in chairs and surrounded by modern art. That’s how I picture, anyway, the set by sound artist Jeremy Young and pianist Shinya Sugimoto at the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn. Everybody at least probably showered before attending.

And this is the venue in which Young and Sugimoto thrive. Their set is broken down into four “movements,” and Sugimoto’s piano and Young’s sound design (tapes/electronics) meet in the sweet spot where honest-to-god atmosphere is conceived; the second before the performance began likely felt like the moment before the Big Bang – out of all the condensed matter in the universe comes life. Not that I’m suggesting Young and Sugimoto are capable of creating life, it’s just that they weren’t making music, and then they were, and it was fully realized. A neat trick, if you ask me.

The rest of the concert is those sounds expanding ever outward into the void, at times passively observing, at others emotionally involved. That’s the draw here, that’s how these two somehow raise themselves above parody, above noise – they connect, and it’s clear. There’s life beyond the clinical treatment of sound – there’s heart in there with that brain. That’s how you know the music’s arrived, evolved, matured, grown, and penetrated – it becomes part of you. All while in an art museum. Kudos to Young and Sugimoto for getting us there.

--Ryan Masteller