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Cutler And Frith - 2 Gentlemen In Verona CD (album) cover

2 GENTLEMEN IN VERONA

Cutler And Frith

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the most recent and probably the most immediate and accessible of Cutler and Frith's albums as an improvising duo. Like many recent ReR releases this is basically one long 43 minute improvisation subdivided into shorter segments, with a little editing but no overdubbing, plus an encore.

It's surprising to realise that the sounds here all emanated from electric guitar and drums (with the odd vocal from Frith), although Chris Cutler's innovative electric kit and Frith's unorthodox approach to the guitar make for a highly varied sonic palette, plus there's the usual flotsam and jetsam in the mix. The music shifts subtly but quite rapidly in mood and tempo throughout, and for every burst of avant rock noise there's a passage of almost conventional melodic or rhythmic playing, even including a brief and ironic pseudo miltary march. Frith's vocal interjections work with rather than against the flow of the music, and in general there's a sense that the players were in harmony with their audience and each other, a marked contrast to the scarily intense Prague recording made 20 years earlier. This doesn't mean that there's no aggression, but rather that it's controlled and chanelled rather than on the verge of escalating into a full scale riot. Also impressive is the sense of structure that can be perceived across the whole piece, something else that's not always obvious in their other improvisations.

This album is perhaps the closest that they have come to creating 'free rock'. Their earlier albums were informed by free jazz and contemporary avant garde music, but on this outing those influences are worn lightly. Electric guitar and drums are the primary colours of rock music, and that's how rhey're used on this album. It's still challenging stuff, but without the shock tactics often associated with free improvisation. Recommended to curious and adventurous listeners.

Syzygy | 4/5 |

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