A fascinating document, full of surprises, of a live performance by Paul Abbott (drum kits, percussion, computer) and Seymour Wright (alto saxophone, feedback) recorded at Café Oto in London in November of 2015.
The first several minutes comprise an intense barrage of alto and drums, very much an extension of the Coltrane/Ali duets of almost 50 years prior, Abbott rolling on the toms, Wright eructing glossolaliac yet quite precise flames of saxophonics, often hammering home short phrases again and again, the pair engaged and meshing beautifully. For all that, there's something necessarily nostalgic about this approach and one begins to wonder if the entirety of the disc's almost 80 minutes is going to be just so occupied. Suddenly, some eleven minutes in, the saxophone stutters and fades, the drums reduce to a single tapping rhythm and a wave of electronics enters the picture, punctuated by silences. The abruptness and unexpectedness of this shift is quite bracing. The saxophone now delivers feedback-laden growls and moans and one quickly loses some sense of where the percussion ends and the electronics begin, all well and good.
The remainder of the set fluctuates between several variations of the electronic interplay and occasional returns to the "straight" free jazz duo. The former range from intense and heatedly claustrophobic to spartan enough to bring AMM and MEV to mind and other less easy to describe areas as well, including portions where the saxophone's output is (I think) split into multiple tones that create a harmonica-like sound field. For most of its final 15+ minutes, Abbott and Wright return to the original acoustic setting, the playing now a bit more considered though still very forceful, even insistent. There's a wonderful "stumbling down the stairs" quality in effect, an avoidance of routine quasi-rhythms, the electronics re-emerging in the last few moments, all of which making for a fine ending to a truly engaging, adventurous set.
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