Kyosaku is a trio. Guitarist Finn Loxbo. Electric bassist Else Bergman. Drummer Ryan Packard. They are based in Stockholm. Together, they explore intensive plateaus. States of constant ecstasy. Kyosaku's music has been described as relentless. But it's really a combination of mesmerizing and prodding, the name a reference to Zen Buddhist "encouragement stick," used to rouse dozy meditators. Packard says: "Relentless as a conceptual place to live within. To be wide awake, relentlessly. To use a full peripheral vision and accept the full spectrum of color. To saturate. To stay within and grow deeper into the details of density, of a shared cohesive spirit. Endless variations under a common cause of stasis." With full-on heavy-hitting sound, this might seem to forecast a brutal listen, but on their second outing, Kyosaku, the band drills deep into detail, the buoyant music gradually shifting while maintaining its ferocity, in a way inviting comparison with Kommun, another group with Loxbo and Packard (also Lisa Ullén and Vilhelm Bromander) in which they explore the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum, also with an intensity and constancy. On the CD's two longform tracks, the music comes with influences hidden and explicit, from Mahavishnu Orchestra to Melt Banana, but it's entirely original, featuring the sum creative energies of its three potent parts, sustained groove serving the purpose of raising the intensity bar. Packard again: "We have collectively agreed upon the idea that under no circumstances should you let up. We propose this question to ourselves before we play: If you start with max intensity, is there more room to go? How does one collectively sustain at such a high intensity, volume? Where is your focus?" For the listener, focal point is also the point. Are you listening? How closely? How does your attention shift? What do you notice in the sound, in the manner of articulation, in the variations and the repetitions? And what are the joys of listening so closely to something so powerful? Like putting your hand on the ribcage of a sleeping tiger. Recorded by Christopher Roth at Studio Dubious, November 23-24, 2022. Mixed and mastered by Lasse Marhaug. Photo by Daniel Piaggio Strandlund.