Jeff Parker/Scott Fields: Song Songs Song (2005)
Boiled down, then, that phrase is exactly what this music is about. Fields gives some more hints, bolding and capitalizing the words melody, harmony, orchestration, rhythm, morphology, taxonomy, and osmosis, which are sprinkled through the notes. The title of the album Song Songs Song probably refers to the fact that tracks 1 and 6 are credited to Parker and tracks 2 through 5 to Fields. After a few close listens, one can easily hear motives or phrases, if not melody, that are presented, passed back and forth and developed, textures that thicken and thin, sound types that range from harmonics to severe distortion, slowly played sections next to ones with speedy runs, free rhythm juxtaposed against straight time.
Neither player can be called a traditional guitarist on this release, but Parker (left channel) is definitely the more lyrical and sentimental"LK 92" has a very strong and (dare I say) pretty melody with a poignant secondary answering phrase; and "The Fields of Cologne" has an atmospheric "Frenchness" about it that draws one in, plus it has a definite quote from a jazz standard. Fields is much more in your face (note the song titles), and gets more "out there" sounds from his guitar, which come from the world of electronics and stomp boxes, sometimes scraping and pulling the strings (a picture shows him using a violin bow on his strings), sometimes using the volume nob to swell whatever distortion or feedback he is getting at the moment, and hence comes across as more experimental (despite the fact that there are obvious motivic figures), but always in control.
There is a certain messiness about the fast playing, but that might also be purposeful. I also have no idea how the players communicated their intentions to each other; how much was written out or how much was musical or visual cues. The tunes many times just trickle out, so unless you listen intently, where one track ends and another begins might be missed.
In sum, after a rough start, this album grew on me, and might be a winner for those who like to hear instruments pushed to the extreme, but within audible frameworks.
Track Listing: LK 92 (6:07), "Untitled, 1968, Bing Cherry juice, KY Jelly, Ketchup on Vellum" (19:32), "Untitled, 2004, Dried Blood on Gauze, Elastic Strip with Adhesive Backing" (9:28), "Untitled, 2001, Soot on Slate" (11:20), "Untitled, 1955, Crayon on Kellog's Corn Flakes Box" (17:39), The Fields of Cologne (5:20)
Personnel: Jeff Parker, Scott Fields - guitar
Record Label: Delmark Records
Style: Fringes of Jazz