There must have been something special going on in Verona last April; neither of these old sparring partners from Henry Cow and Art Bears can remember anything about this concert! By far the most aggressive of their duo albums, it leads us via howling fuzz guitar and machine gun percussion into walls of post-rock improvisation, obsessive industrial rhythms, and levels of excitement rarely generated by two people on a stage.
Fred's guitar is put through its usual obstacle course, but here it harangues and whinnies with unbelievable compressed energy; when things get too intense he lets fly with his vocal chords. Chris's electrified kit powers out repetitive triplets, supplemented by an array of shrieking, buzzing and whining paraphernalia. Often we are propelled by the rhythms into a white hot area somewhere between This Heat, John Mclaughlin from the Extrapolation period, and even Vini Reilly's Durrutti Column. Despite the references, the music flows from the protagonists, distilling elements from Henry Cow, Cassiber, Skeleton Crew and Naked City. The album is remarkable for Chris and Fred's rediscovery of melody and time playing, in contrast to the more fragmented mode they have adopted in previous duo outings. Just occasionally they unfurl a gentle ambience that we have not heard from them before; watch out for the filigree modal improvisations that end the concert, and beware the incendiary encore, which opens with a fanfare of slide guitar, and imperceptibly dissolves to silence.
Chris and Fred were founder members of Henry Cow and Art Bears. Chris has since performed with his group Cassiber, with Pere Ubu, and in duos with Zeena Parkins, Tim Hodgkinson and Tom Dimuzio. Fred has performed extensively with John Zorn in Naked City, and has released many albums of solo guitar, music for film, and contemporary classical compositions.