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Dominic Lash, Alex Ward: Antonyms

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Dominic Lash, Alex Ward: Antonyms
Can an album's contents be any less summed up by its title? While Antonyms suggests opposition, the collaboration between bassist Dominic Lash and clarinetist & guitarist Alex Ward evidences rather more empathy than contradiction. That is unsurprising given regular appearances in each other's bands as well as collective arenas going back at least to Barkingside (FMR, 2008). If the title is not referring to the principals, then perhaps it is the form of their encounters? Not really, as each brings two compositions to the date, which is completed by one cooperative invention. Charted and impromptu mingle near seamlessly throughout, scuppering any easy demarcation.

The bassist's opening "Recap" starts the set on a high, teetering between poise and passion. Meticulously braided long tones initially produce the illusion of electronic sine waves, before Lash saws a muezzin call, answered by Ward's subtly overtone-laden upper register. They continue to shuffle between composed and improvised sections, culminating in a wonderfully conceived clarinet outing. Lash also takes a supportive role in his own "Ballast," which moves from an early chamber feel, with Ward again on clarinet, to a jazzy stroll, with Ward now on guitar. His transition between the two says a lot about the attention both pay to detail, as a clear clarinet sustain transmutes into the exact same pitch created from guitar feedback.

The jointly birthed "Gegenwort" presents much more of an equal dialogue as strangulated clarinet twists vie with arco swipes across the full breadth of the fingerboard in a spirited interaction which recalls some of Anthony Braxton's tandem sessions with the likes of John Lindberg or Joe Fonda. That same combination of woodwind and bowed bass holds sway on Ward's "Right Shoes," where a percussive intro launches a jerky, perky unison, before flying free. Electricity engenders more aggression when Ward unleashes his guitar chops on "Unfriendly Manoeuvre," as his pedals and effects conjure convulsing distortion and scrabbling skronk.

The pair's ability to shift fluently between different modes, all the while maintaining an ear for the unexpected, casts no further light on the title, but speaks volumes about their shared chemistry. Perhaps they just liked the word.

Track Listing

Recap; Ballast; Gegenwort; Unfriendly Manoeuvre; Right Shoes.

Personnel

Dominic Lash
bass, acoustic
Alex Ward
multi-instrumentalist
Additional Instrumentation

Alex Ward: clarinet, electric guitar.

Album information

Title: Antonyms | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Copepod Records


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