Kowald and Golia have been valued players in the realms of the free for long enough to have established their musical identities, but what makes all the difference in this program is the extra-musical knowledge they bring to bear.
Golia brings a veritable arsenal of instruments whilst Kowald employs various techniques. Both of these points lend the music depth as well as the substance that can be taken for granted. As if to emphasize the importance of this, the track titles refer to the technique Kowald uses and the instrument Golia plays respectively. Thus "Arco / Soprano" is a model of how to extract the maximum out of relatively minimal resources. It's no mean achievement of Golia's that he manages to overtly evoke no-one other than himself on the straight horn. The music benefits accordingly, with both players being servants of the moment in the most positive sense.
"Arco / Contra Alto Clarinet" is shaded to a negligible extent by Anthony Braxton
's use of the contrabass model of that horn, but once Golia gets the better of his initial preoccupation with the instrument's lower registers, the music takes flight. Kowald coaxes sounds out of his bass beyond the tempered note, but the very anti-developmental stance the duo takes has the effect of making the music even more than usually resonant.
On "Arco / Bass Clarinet" they prove how in thrall they are to the passing moment. Golia again proves to be his own man on an instrument which could be said to have an ambivalent place in the history of the music. Here he's at his most effective in the instrument's lower registers, while at times it seems as though Kowald is everywhere, his accommodation with the moment tempered by the demands of the partnership.
If the tension between resolution and irresolution is never resolved here, it might just be down to the fact that the musicians had so many considerations on their minds in the moment. "Arco / Sopranino" in essence is the measure of that implied agreement not to agree, but even so, Kowald's stealth seems to undermine the impression anyway. While Golia falls back upon rapidly and barely articulated notes, the bassist galumphs along at times, not so much in Golia's wake as alongside of him whilst looking out upon radically different vistas.
Visit Peter Kowald and Vinny Golia on the web.
Personnel: Vinny Golia: woodwinds; Peter Kowald: bass, voice.