G is for Gnu
Tokyo based Gnu (Pronounced as "Nu" the G is silent.) are a semi-improv unit formed by avant garde Jazz performer and composer Okura Masahiko in 1997. The band have had a couple of different lineups over the years switching bassists, drummers and guitarists with Okura being the only constant member. In 1998 Itoken joined the band as their drummer and in 2001 the ensemble began using a dual drum setup by throwing Kumada Takashi into the mix. The current 5 man lineup being Okura on Sax, Clarinet and Synth, Itoken and Kumada on drums, Taneishi Yukiya on bass and Chiba Hiroki on violin, contra bass and electronics.
The bands angular jazz/math-rock is probably most easily compared to genre figureheads Tortoise. The music is composed but live the arrangements of the songs are improvised with Okura taking the role of composer/master of ceremonies by communicating through hand gestures the length, tempo and dynamics of musical phrases and which players are playing etc.
Released in 2003 "Suro" is the bands 3rd studio album. The album represents a nice middle ground between its more accessible 2007 followup "Event" and the their most recent 2009 album the very cerebral sounding "Knowns". The dual drumming is fairly subtle on this release but check out "Knowns" to see the impressively nuanced beat juggling the band have developed over the years.