Two venerable New York City downtown vets, trumpeter/experimentalist Cuong Vu and drummer Tom Rainey, impart their distinct musical personas upon budding Irish guitarist Mark O'Leary's latest recording, a this studio set. Vu incorporates textural components via loops and EFX, while flexing some muscle on his trumpet. O'Leary's motivation is underscored by the works of famed Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.
He commences the gala with pensive, Ralph Towner-like twelve-string acoustic guitar voicings on the opening title track. Then Vu follows with dark-toned lines atop Rainey's colorific cymbal swashes. During most of this session, polytonal contrasts play a vital role; the pieces are designed with mood-evoking triads and multidirectional exchanges.
On electric guitar, O'Leary intermittently kicks into full throttle with scorching, rapidly ascending single-note flurries. And when Vu isn't sculpting raspy notes and linear phrases, he injects an ethereal muse into key movements with various EFX-based treatments. O'Leary also delves into the electronics arena with a fusion of sound-shaping sequences and airy background treatments. Yet it's Rainey who fuels the proceedings with snappy off-beats and swiftly generated polyrhythms.
O'Leary blazes forth on "Mr. Krapps Neurosis, where Rainey and Vu soar towards the cosmos, sparking a free-form jazz/rock effect. However, the loose-groove vamp on "Happy Days offers a disparate scenario, awash with odd-metered pulses and counterbalancing riffs by O'Leary and Vu. The guitarist's latest offering boasts great depth and wiliness, seemingly motivated by his ability to venture towards brazen frontiers with self-assurance and monstrous chops.