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Album Review

Jon Durant & Stephan Thelen: Crossings

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Jon Durant & Stephan Thelen: Crossings
These two guitarist/composers first came together when Stephan Thelen asked Jon Durant to contribute to a track on Fractal Guitar (MoonJune Records, 2019). Durant's role was greatly expanded on Fractal Guitar 2 (MoonJune Records, 2021): he played on all six tracks, his fretless guitar playing especially distinctive. Thelen had the idea of doing a duet with Durant when asked to provide a track for a MoonJune Records sampler album.

That track was a new version of the title track from Thelen's solo album Vol de Nuit (RepTile, 2004), which they recorded as a homage to two favorite guitarists, Robert Fripp and Terje Rypdal. It opens the album, Thelen's e-bowed guitar soaring over a throbbing bed of atmospheric electronics (evoking Fripp), followed by reverberant guitar with whammy bar (evoking Rypdal). The call and response between these two guitar voices continues over a gradually intensifying backdrop. "Sunrise" follows with a familiar rhythmic feel, interlocking guitars playing odd-meter rhythmic patterns. There are no drums (or bass) on the album, but there is no shortage of grooves.

"Mise En Abyme" and "Crossings" are also atmospheric new versions of past Thelen compositions, both from Mise An Abyme (RepTile, 2009). "Mise" shines with Durant's fretless guitar solo, while "Crossings" finds him on 12-string guitar, plus more fretless (along with additional haunting e-bow playing from Thelen, a signature sound here). "Fractal 5.7" revisits Thelen's "fractal guitar" approach, employing electronic decay to create rhythm patterns. As always the process results in a fascinating, jerky groove.

Most of the pieces began in Switzerland, followed by Durant responding with spontaneous textural and melodic ideas. "Dream Sequence" reversed that process, traveling from Portland with Durant's heavily processed fretless guitar creating a pulsing, almost electronica atmosphere. "Infinity" closes the album, evoking a feeling of vast spaces. Almost motionless at first, it gradually washes over the listener in waves before finally fading away. A beautiful conclusion to a set that is rich in collaborative magic.

Track Listing

Vol de Nuit; Sunrise; Mise en Abyme; Crossings; Fractal 5.7; Dream Sequence; Infinity.

Personnel

Jon Durant: guitar, electric; Stephan Thelen: guitar, electric.

Additional Instrumentation

Jon Durant: fretless guitar, cloud guitar, effects; Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, e-bow, loops, effects.

Album information

Title: Crossings | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Alchemy Records


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