This newly released set is apportioned into two sections: The first two pieces feature legendary British free-improviser, guitarist Derek Bailey performing with compatriot, saxophonist John Butcher, live at the “Vortex” club in London, whereas Butcher and harpist, Rhodri Davies execute three duet pieces at a London church. Basically, these recordings provide the listener with stark contrasting elements, yet are firmly rooted within the traditional or perhaps classic, British free-style mode of improvisation. The opener titled “Low Voltage,” is a twenty-seven minute opus, featuring Bailey and Butcher engaging in emotionally driven exchanges and the master artisans’ unique vernacular atop expressively animated dialogue. Here, Bailey carves out a series unorthodox voicings amid his customary employment of harmonics as Butcher often answers with complimentary or offsetting statements via his buzz-saw attack and expert utilization of droning extended notes and circuitous lines. Essentially, the artists’ instruments serve as imaginary appendages of their respective psyches as the twosome alters the ebb and flow via a series of seemingly argumentative discourses and subtle shifts in strategy.
Butcher’s pairing with harpist, Rhodri Davies offers a bit of counterpoint to his duets with Bailey while the musicians’ also stretch their instruments capabilities to the max. However, Davies’ often metallic, steely edged lines may impart somewhat of an illusion or perhaps signify the antithesis of your traditional fluttering, fairy tale like, harp-based methodology. - Fortunately, rules were meant to be broken!
With “Rhagymadrodd” the soloists serve up rather haunting sequences of sub themes, complete with Butcher’s mimicking of birds chirping along with Davies’ well-placed notes, and nonconforming frameworks. Needless to say, most instances of time, space, and reality become jumbled and distorted, thanks to the musicians’ artful implementations and wily interplay. Highly recommended.
Personnel: John Butcher; soprano & tenor saxophones: Derek Bailey; amplified guitar: Rhodri Davies; harp