How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Sometimes when listening to improvised music there's the feelingof being Donny Kerabatsos from the movie The Big Lebowski, who Walter Sobchak scolds with the line, “...you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know the story.”
But that’s not a problem with Craig Green and David King’s improvised duo recording. In fact, their self-described ‘new American roots music’ works quite nicely. While the pair perform spontaneous compositions here, nothing sounds alien or without reference for listeners to pick up upon or follow.
Percussionist Dave King is well known to jazz listeners as a member of The Bad Plus and Happy Apple bands. Craig Green should be introduced as a guitarist versed in jazz, rock and world music playing with the likes of Ray Charles, Brazilian drummer Emilano Benivides, North Indian tabla player Sadip Berman, Eyvind Kang, Jeff Kaiser and The Violent Femmes.
The disc opens with the drummer playing not drums but piano. “Thin Blue Ice” is a meditative and foggy track with Green furnishing electronic effects behind the early-morning chamber sounds of King’s piano. King’s piano playing is heard elsewhere, and it reveals itself to be as open to sound making as his drumming. He stabs notes behind the electric guitar of Green on “Walk Left,” a sort of halting ballad. King also reveals his vibes playing, tapping glass notes on “Part 2” and chimes on “Rainey Qunciera.”
Green conjures sounds from his guitars both electric and acoustic to great effect. He becomes a son of Bill Frisell, grandson of Derek Bailey but with a pension for rock. The longest track on the disc, “Snow Plow,” thumps along to King’s bass drum and Green’s stellar guitar effects. He alternates melodic passages with noise (as pleasant as can be), creating a menagerie of sound that morphs into a sort of tango. Elsewhere, “Rock, Paper, Scissors” hovers around the military beat until Green’s acoustic guitar signals a blues tune. King follows making the pulse a marching funkiness. The music is free, at times it's wacky, but it's altogether enjoyable. Dudes, this music abides.
Track Listing: Thin Blue Ice; Faux Hawk; Part 2; Walk Left; Rock, Paper, Scissors; Cinematic; Stand Right; Part 3; Praise The Shadows; Rainey Qunciera; Snow Plow; Border Town 1929.
Personnel: Craig Green: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electronics; Dave King: drums, percussion, piano, vibes.