The latest from prolific improvisers Sandy Ewen and Weasel Walter, appropriately christened "Idiomatic" presents the listener with a triptych of explosive free-form sonic interplay and porous texture-heavy atmospherics that fill the single disc to capacity. Recent NYC transplant Sandy Ewen comes at her guitar like a ravenous bear to a formal dinner, table manners be damned. She utilizes a painterly approach, coaxing shades of scratch and twang from her instrument with a variety of metal shop implements and debris. Walter is a legendary free improvising percussionist, guitarist, and composer. He is the original Flying Luttenbacher, a composer of utter madness, key member of countless bands and projects, and ugEXPLODE proprietor and curator. The Weasel has been spreading his beautiful brand of chaos across the globe since the year punk broke. So bring the kids and pets in and hold onto your vittles, because these free improvising beasts are roaring down the hillside and they sound hungry.
Now this is a tough album to review in a literal sense because of the diversity of sounds used and the speed with which the pieces develop and move along. The first track "(22:38)" reminds me of the lyrical abstraction paintings of Jean Paul Riopelle, where he violently flung paint from his utensils onto the canvas. The piece is filled with guitar scrape and crackle, manic percussion, and pointillistic electronics. "(23:43)" is a study in extended textural atmospherics. Ewen pans her guitar across the stereo field, setting up minor collisions with Walter's effects laced cymbal chatter and buzzing magnetic fields. The last piece, "(29:29)", speeds the action back up to a manic pace off the bat. The first half is the sound of robots attacking each other with whisks, egg beaters, springs, and ray guns. The last half covers the aftermath, all menacing din and short-circuiting hardware. You can almost hear the disembodied limbs still scratching around on the ground looking for their blaster.
All of this might sound off-putting to some, but I found it a pleasure to listen to. It's gritty and sympathetic free improvisation played by two tireless practitioners of energy music. They provide enough variety in terms of utility and dynamics to keep the proceedings thoroughly interesting, and I found Walter's electronics to be a great fit on this recording. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is making particular sounds and the commonality produced by the guitar and electronics unifies the overall experience.
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