For all the racket conjured up at times on its debut Saturn's Finger
, Maybe Monday's Fred Frith (guitar), Miya Masaoka (koto, electronics), and Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino sax) essentially focus on the power of nuance. The CD is energized, but quiet and meticulously crafted; its three extended improvisations explore a subtle interweaving of textures via flabby detuned six-string, spry (and solemn) harplike koto, chittering horn, and industrial-edge samples. It's a bold new sonic world to be sure, a weird wiring-together of organic and electronic animals. The group's emphasis on timbral metamorphoses and experimental instrumental techniques has a precedent in the Euro-Asian avant-garde (Evan Parker, John Butcher, Derek Bailey, Otomo Yoshihide) -- but Maybe Monday's a rare beast with its own distinctive character.
Perhaps most ingenious is the combo's ability to channel unpure or corrupted sounds into beautifully sculpted compositions. Frith's guitar seems to mock tonal standards with a variously clean (but off-tuned) or dirty (yet un-guitarlike) approach. Masaoka takes a similar tack, amping up and distorting her elegant Japanese zither with interactive electronics. Both players, along with Ochs and his post-jazz wail, smoothly integrate unconventional voices into articulate, collectively developed pieces of music, which bloom so cunningly, you might forget they're mostly noise.
Maybe Monday performs Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Tickets are $12; call 885-0750.