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Duos 2 represents a posthumous sequel to Peter Kowald's 1998 FMP release, Duos. Kowald's missionary zeal spreading the gospel of freedom took him through several countries in old cars. Taped from '85-'90 and formerly available on vinyl, these recordings have Kowald hobnobbing with an elite corp of forward reaching artists from Europe, North America, and Japan, including Julius Hemphill, Jeanne Lee, Derek Bailey, Butch Morris, Toshinori Kondo, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Andrew Cyrille. With eighteen radically unique musical visions on display, the collection highlights Kowald's liquid versatility and fiery imagination.
Jumping into the maelstrom with Evan Parker on "Straight Angel Suite II," they roll over each other like otters at play, Parker expounding his astounding musical ideas, Kowald finding them to be a roomy landscape. Joined by the late Jeanne Lee for the "He Who Laughs Suite," Kowald creates slippery strings for Lee's vocalese incorporating laughter and her improvised melody beautiful. Toshinori Kondo bares sharper teeth than he's shown on recent collaborations with Bill Laswell. On '86's "Electric Fried Rice Fields," he's more sound architect than wah-wah trumpet player. Kowald transcends his acoustic sound with arco sliding and scraping. Julius Hemphill gets nasty, plays blues and bop, and eases cool through Kowald's active participation.
Seizan Matsuda's mournful shakuhachi blows through "Wind Feet," with Kowald taking the bass up to the flute's range to better converse. Diamanda Galas unleashes her death defying diaphragm on "Throat It," Kowald actively bowing in response. Conrad Bauer plays remarkably inside, muted and sentimental on "Stein auf Bein." He maintains a frenzied bow with Butch Morris, then accompanies the trumpet's romantic minor melody with abrupt basslines on "Burden of Choice Suite." Using extended techniques on bass, he matches Fred Firth's homemade electronics on "Without the Fat of Sacrifice." "Basic" features Masahiko Kono's rough muted trombone against a small repeated bass figure. With Kowald imitating a didjerido, Andrew Cyrille vocalizes and brushes for "Serious Fun 2." Floros Floridas' low agile clarinet contrasts Kowald's muted off-time bass.
Michihiro Sato's shamisen adds an exotic sound on "Regular Informals." Derek Bailey's steel string tour de force has Kowald speed plucking. Marilyn Mazur creates near electronic tones from her percussion palette, then Kowald rips into a jumped up bass riff before a dreamy arco and gong sequence complete with throat singing. For "Power Without Power," Kowald enters Junko Handa's biwa forest.
The chance to hear curtain call tracks by deceased artists like Hemphill, Lee, and, of course, Kowald himself, makes this set compelling listening. This valuable anthology offers pungent samples of some of the most startling and influential musicians of the late 20th Century, not the least the man providing the unifying link, Peter Kowald.
Track Listing: Straight Angel Suite II; He Who Laughs Suite; Electric Fried Rice Field; Balances and Cloves;
Wind Feet; Throat 2; Stein Auf Bein; Burden of Choice Suite; Without the Fat of Sacrifice; Basic; Serious
Fun 2; Maria's Black; Regular Informals; Found Bits; Wind Travel Suite; Power Without Power1; Bamboo-
Iron; And then You Will See.