The art of the duo has been all but perfected in the virtuosic recordings of saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp. The two composer-improvisers have recorded a dozen duo albums and more than twenty other collections in larger formations. Special Edition Box is art on several levels with audio, a Blue-Ray DVD, and a book, Embrace of Souls by Belgian vocal artist Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg. The bundle is all tied beautifully together in a boxed set featuring Perelman's striking visual art on the inside back cover.
"Procedural Language" is the audio portion of the box set and is likely to be released under that title after the limited edition runs its course. The music is divided into twelve relatively concise parts, well-connected, with only two running over five minutes. The tracks are chronologically titled as such. The improvisations frequently incorporate melodic episodes, but they are protracted on the richly atmospheric "Track 1" and "Track 9." Many of the mid-point improvisations, such as tracks 5, 6, and 7, feature a more gruff, vociferous Perelman. Shipp's piano has that distinctive weighty authority and edge in these pieces that make his playing stand apart. "Track 2" and "Track 3" find Perelman and Shipp seemingly heading down opposite paths. The music rises and falls, gets disorienting when the piano fixes on the lower register and the tenor's upper range. Still, the often-perplexing music is well organized and expertly implemented.
Perelman and Shipp continue to be one of the most prolific enterprises in free improvisation and avant-garde jazz. They excel at extemporizing themes, re-analyzing and creating new musical elements, beautifully blending melodies with cutting, caustic retorts. They exercise a self-imposed control that belies their spontaneity. The enthusiasm of their bold, impulsive creations is unsurpassed in modern creative music.
The one-hour Blue Ray DVD included in the limited-edition box set was filmed at a live performance at São Paulo, Brazil's Sesc Pompeia in 2019, about six months after the Brooklyn studio recording. The film is visually stunning, at times augmented with Perelman's paintings floating in the background.