Recorded in Belgium in April of 1981, this long-dormant set, originally to have been released on Lytton's PO Torch label, finally gets an airing thanks to the good people at Corbett vs. Dempsey. At the time, Lytton and Hirt were very active as a duo, as well as being members of the quartet X-Pact (with Wolfgang Fuchs and Has Schneider), and the King Ubu Orchestra.
Everything you'd expect is here: Flinty guitar pluckings peppered with harmonic volume swells and quick bits of feedback, scattershot drumming with well-timed surprise bombs and pitch-bent madness, the gamut is truly run. Overall, the duo swing between louder, more emphatic pronouncements and long passages of quieter interaction, and this is where some of the weirdest stuff happens. The uncanny speech-like asides. Hirt channels Eugene Chadbourne and Lytton responds with a wall of quick-handed strikes. The pitch bent harmonics with percussive comments at the beginning of "Passing" are particularly fun, and then it develops into a rapid-fire jamboree which isn't featured in the guide book.
Hirt's playing doesn't mimic other guitarists of the time, he sounds very much his own man. Sure, there's something very familiar in his timbres and string-deadened picking, his droning warble and off-kilter note placement, but this is probably down to the universal nature of the guitar and not really a case of imitation. (See the birds and whine section at the end of this track.) The stop-starts and volume gradations on "The Sensitive Stickler" will test your ears while enticing you with some very odd combinations, tap dancing on a bed of needles, cutlery affixed. These are a few of my favorite moments, I'm sure you'll have your own.
The early '80's was a very fertile period in the history of free improvisation, and it's very great indeed to have this document unearthed at last. A note on the cover says that this is Paul Lytton archives #1. Hopefully that means we can look forward to a lot more of this awesome music.
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