I'm Not A Gun: We Think As Instruments
City Centre Offices

John Tejada and Takeshi Nishimoto return with the third I'm Not A Gun outing, the duo's sound only slightly different from Our Lives On Wednesdays. If anything, the musicians embrace a more fluid and atmospheric style this time around in place of a straight-ahead, fusion-oriented style. Particular songs expose subtle advances: injecting exotic flavour into the group's sound, Nishimoto plays the sarod (a classical Indian instrument) on “A Letter from the Past” while digital lapping patterns ripple through “Rush Hour Traffic” with nary a guitar sound to be heard. “Unseen Moment” and the sleek opener “Soft Rain in the Spring,” on the other hand, are trademark I'm Not A Gun pieces and could easily have fit comfortably onto either of the two preceding albums. And while the guitars still elegantly chime, they also exude a blurry, gossamer tone, and thereby allow Tejada's live drumming to become a stronger focal point (hear how the punch of his ringing cymbals and snare rolls matches the intensity of the guitars and bass in “Long Afternoon,” for example).

The axe playing is tastefully restrained and the sound is organic, the group's seemingly natural sound camouflaging the fact that it's as much the product of digital construction as live playing. The album thus captures the duo striking a balance between programming and improvisation, with a number of songs marrying new ideas to trademark I'm Not A Gun elements. The insistent pulse driving “Move,” for example, aligns the song closer to Tejada's techno-related work, but the alternating acoustic guitars (Nishimoto's custom-built 7-string in particular) are pure I'm Not A Gun. To those contending (with some justification) that the playing is sometimes too polite, check out the second half of “As Far as Forever Goes” where the duo stokes some serious fire. Of course, what matters most is not instrumental prowess but more the caliber of songwriting, and, in that regard, We Think As Instruments is distinguished most of all when a piece like “Long Afternoon” elevates the disc with its creamy chord changes.

May 2006