A "live" recording (without an audience) finds ICP veteran Honsinger (cello, voice) and Simonini (records, cds, tapes, voice) creating an odd variety of nostalgia-tinged mayhem. Both the music and texts are improvised but neither is particularly abstract. The former makes persistent allusions to classical music in a warped manner (not dissimilar to the ICP Orchestra's commentary on jazz forms) as do the vocals in an impolite, questioning and sometimes humorous way.
That "humor" might be the tipping point pro or con for the listener. There's a long tradition, within European jazz extending (in the more avant-attuned) from Willem Breuker through the ICP and beyond of madcap antics that can, when inspired, be quite hilarious but which tend to pale over time and, ultimately, lose their punch once the initial surprise and delight have gone. They remain popular however, so fans of either will get a kick out of this loose, good-natured set. There's much vocalization in play here, both enunciated (in English or Italian) and scatted. Simonini is a few steps beyond the Marclay school of turntabling (though that's clearly a source) but several short of the already decade-old stylings of, say, Martin Tetreault or Otomo Yoshihide (he still uses records, for goodness sake! ;-)). Within that area, however, he's quite resourceful, never letting things flag, never dwelling too long in one location, leapfrogging through a bewildering number of samples and layering them richly. Honsinger is engagingly goofy as a vocalist but also provides the most solid musical base with his arco work on cello, gluing together what might well have become an utter mess otherwise. There's no "soloing" as such, everything is a conversation.
Though there are moments of surprisingly touching beauty ("Page Comes of Age"), the general tenor is gently wry humor. Listeners searching for serious improv would be advised to seek elsewhere but those, especially if there's an existing affinity to this strain of improvised mirth, will find "Call Me Us" an enjoyable, often rollicking two-man show.
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