On 2 Gentlemen In Verona
guitarist Fred Frith and drummer Chris Cutler perpetuate an alliance that was established back in the pioneering days of “Henry Cow”, “The Art Bears” and other projects too numerous in scope to cite here. However, their intuitive improvisational speak once again comes to fruition on this altogether fascinating live exhibition recorded in Verona, Italy, April 16, 1999.
Here, the duo performs a series of “Acts” subdivided into incremental “Scenes”, akin to a theatrical production. However, this outing does not represent anything that might resemble a musical score for an Italian melodrama or social comedy. Hence, Frith and Cutler overwhelm our imaginations as they generate multi-textured pastiches that feature abstract rhythms, otherworldly effects and mind-bending dialogue. Whether Frith is slashing his guitar strings alongside Cutler’s odd-metered and undulating rhythms or when the musicians perhaps mimic some alien language they often stagger our aural senses as we soon learn to anticipate the unforeseen. – At times, the music conjures up bizarre images of automatons or unknown entities performing with unexpected soul and emotion. Needless to state, Cutler and Frith straddle the avant-garde yet they also pursue funk-rock rhythms on “Act 4 – Scene 1” whereas Frith’s guitar wizardry and Cutler’s springy yet evolving militaristic pulse invokes some sort of mutant John Philip Sousa style march or procession.
With this new release, Frith and Cutler once again seize our imaginations as they take us on an indescribable journey to the land of the unknown while they also astonish our senses with their contorted proclamations and merciless assaults on modern improvised music! Highly recommended.
* * * * 1/2 (out of * * * * *)
Chris Cutler; Drums, Electrified Drums, Flotsam: Fred Frith; Electrified Guitars, Voice, Jetsam