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Two men, two instruments and the instant multiplication of sound is the order of the day when Greg Sinibaldi and Jesse Canterbury record inside a water cistern in Port Townsend, Washington. The two-million gallon cylindrical concrete tank delivers a 45-second reverberation that requires a purposeful application of notes by imperturbable musicians. Any other approach, and the sound will inundate and overwhelm the affair. The acoustics of the cistern dictate that the direction of the music originates in the ambient realm.
Even if there were no synthesizers or electronics, we still would have ambient musics. Years before Brian Eno and Aphex Twin conjured aural landscapes of sound via tape delays, loops, drones, and synthesizers, acoustic atmospheric music was made in the great cathedrals of Europe and even in the reverberations of caves. As ambient genres have morphed and split into sub-genres of glitch, dub, space, and minimalism, the original acoustic versions are somehow more compelling.
Sinibaldi, a saxophonist who plays in a wide spectrum of Seattle's music scenes from free jazz to metal and Canterbury, a clarinetist with ties to avant-jazz and chamber music, both play bass clarinets here with Sinibaldi doubling on tenor saxophone and Canterbury on clarinet. The pair must be careful with noise. The opener "Wade" is awash with notes and the reverberation and disintegration of sound. The half-life of each note's resonance is a meditation on their music-making. "Second Thought" finds clarinet fluttering around the deep tenor notes and the noisiness of "Two or Three Back and Around" deals with the harshness of the cistern's aural environment.
The recording pares down the sound with solo pieces from each player. Sinibaldi covers Thelonious Monk
's "Ugly Beauty" played as haunting dream, his tenor's notes returning to him like an echoing organ recital. When reunited, the pair produce "Not Forever, Just for Now," a near perfect interlacing of voices that mimic a choral work.
The recording is available as a limited edition vinyl LP or digital download.