Despite the trio listed on this album, this disc in fact pivots around
relative newcomer Antoine Berthiaume, presenting solo work and duos
with the great guitar improvisers Fred Frith and Derek Bailey. Berthiaume
is a Montreal artist working with other Actuelle musicians such as as
Michel Donato, Pierre Tanguay, Michel F. Côté, Philippe Lauzier and Tim
Brady. He first met Derek Bailey in 2001 while traveling in London, and
recorded the duos on this album on his second trip there, also
appearing solo at an Instant Music Meeting show. Berthiaume can also
be heard on Bailey's Incus release Visitors Book. The duos with Frith were recorded in Montreal, and the majority of
the release is three pieces with Frith. A solo piece and two duos with
Bailey are also presented.
On the whole the album is an excellent display of guitar improvisation.
Starting with the delicate solo piece "soshin," composed with Denis
Gougeon, Berthiaume scrapes, slides and slips in with beautiful and
drifting guitar work, using every inch of his instrument to create
evocative sound. Berthiaume has a great sense of space and allows the
piece to evolve slowly, bringing in a deep droning chord and percussive
scrape over which he improvises in fragments as the drone eventually
overtakes the piece. It
is a well balanced and beautifully structured composition.
The three pieces with Frith are more playful improvisations, atmospheric
and introspective while still being active. Both players seem remarkably
compatible in their conception of improvisation, and the unhurried
approach lends itself both to a gorgeous quality of sound and to many
interesting ideas that sneak out of each guitar. "morning froth"
introduces a beautiful Frith melodic riff that reappears and bends itself
away repeatedly, with a bottleneck twang feeling. It is a refreshing piece
of music, quirky, lovely and engaging. The magnificent "indicateur
d'assiette" is another thing altogether, clocking in at 18:40, a strange
and gigantic improvisation that has both players utilizing a variety of
techniques to create an often frightening but always fascinating piece of
music. Their last piece, "wolf's wood" is an uneasy work of guitar
scrapes, rumbles and unusual sounds, settling into a meandering
acoustic improv with a rubbing guitar sound much like a voice
whimpering in the midst of these unusual woods.
The pieces with Bailey are more abstract affairs. "afternoon tea" is a
with Bailey on acoustic guitar while Berthiaume provides a rich chordal
backdrop, a meandering but interesting punctuation to the cd.
"aquatheque" ends the cd with an odd scraping and scrabbling piece that
settles into a sort of daydreaming improvisation. These pieces provide a
great complement to the album, a balanced release of modern
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