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Irish guitar hero Mark O'Leary continues to pursue the outer boundaries of improvisation. Here, he aligns with Norwegian percussionist Terje Isungset for a polytonal and multihued improv fest. On 2008's Shamanic Voices, with more on the way, the guitarist intermingles acoustic and electric guitar parts with his partner's keen use of disparate percussion objects. Loaded with contrasts, O'Leary shades the proceedings with injections of electronics and a myriad of guitars. Whether he fuses fuzz-toned pyrotechnics with Isungset's shakers, woodblocks, cymbals and drums, O'Leary looms as a unifying force throughout. But it's an intuitive and irrefutably collaborative effort, where no two pieces sound alike.
O'Leary spikes the electricity up a few million notches on the opening piece, "Rainmaker," countered by Isungset's asymmetrical percussion endeavors that spark notions of a soul-cleansing process. And in other regions of sound and scope, they venture into abstract, but uncannily cohesive diatribes. On "Vardlokker," the duo renders a fractured jazz-metal motif via clanging and crashing rhythmic elements and counterbalancing dialogues. They also sport a rather large sound that elicits a semblance of joyous unity.
The artists tear it up with a garrulous groove during "Seidr," as O'Leary generates some high-heat and the percussionist institutes an off-kilter tribal rhythm vamp. Ultimately, this outing provides yet another sterling perspective of O'Leary's flexibility and open-minded proclivities. However, the twosome resides on a balanced plane that radiates in a prismatic sort of way. Lots of goodness under the proverbial hood here.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.