The Canadian label Mystery & Wonder continue to impress us with their select catalogue of improvisatory goodness. The team of Elizabeth Millar and Craig Pedersen performed with two Japanese heavy-hitters of the genre in 2017, and the results are now issued as Sound of the Mountain with Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura (MW008). It so happens they have been touring Canada as a quartet in October and November 2019 and this release would no doubt make an excellent CDR purchase for the audience to pick up from the merchandise stall. I note approvingly that this is a very maximal set of music – full of incident, drama, event, textures, and in places even quite noisy and raucous. I seem to recall that both Tetuzi and Toshimaru did appear on quite a few minimal and Onkyo-ish EAI releases in the 2000s, so their pro-active work here goes to show how versatile these players are (and indeed how useless it is for critics to come up with genres, names and pigeonholes that only serve to constrict creativity and limit our freedom of thought). The combination here of amplified trumpet, amplified clarinet, guitar and electronics (the no-input mixing board of Toshi, natch) is a total winner for me, seeming completely natural, rather than a forced yoking of ill-fitting instruments and players into an experimental combo just for the sake of proving something. Records like this do a lot to reinvigorate the purpose and meaning of free improvisation, a way of playing music that sometimes seems to be endangered though lack of support or even throttled by its own internecine struggles. Can’t say enough good things about this fine record. 300 copies only, in a card carton with obi strip and insert. From 1st October 2019.