Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker – Little Common Twist (Thrill Jockey, 2019)

This is a very interesting and creative album from two musical free spirits, drummer Charles Rumback and guitarist Ryley Walker. Rumback is a first call percussionist in Chicago's excellent free jazz scene and Walker first made his name as a singer / songwriter, particularly on the wonderful Astral Weeks like album Primrose Green. This album was recorded in spontaneous sessions over the course of a few years, and works quite well. The opening track "Half Joking" uses acoustic guitar and brushes, sounding gentle and melodic, with percussion feathering around the guitar as they gradually build stronger cells of pace and volume. After "Self Blind Sun" uses space and probing brushes and guitar, "Idiot Parade" comes in, feeling more ominous, with Rumback using drum sticks, and Walker adding electronics or electric guitar drone sounding cool and almost ritualistic as the track builds to a soundscape of drone and crisp percussion."And You, These Sang" uses brushes along side dark somber sounding guitar, achieving a cinematic music vibe, while "Menebhi" unleashes a menagerie of different sounds layered upon each other, swaths of electronics, scattered drums and percussion, all of which are developing in an interesting and experimental manner. "Ill Fitting / No Sickness" displays Walker's excellent acoustic guitar playing, recalling Richard Thompson's virtuosity, playing very crisp and articulately, fast and propulsive. The drums enter midway through adding a complex rhythm and taking the performance to new heights. There is an abstract ambient opening to "If You're Around and Down," with cymbals adding to the sound and playing off against the soundscape with subtle drumming and shimmering cymbals, achieving a subtle overall sound of electronic ambient with subtle percussion."Worn and Held" fades in to shimmering guitar and framing percussion, with the music evolving patiently over time becoming louder and faster but remaining well controlled. it has an appealing atmospheric feeling that fills up the available soundscape with waves of guitar and percussion in a strong but not overpowering fashion. This album worked quite well, with the musicians working as equals and stepping away from regular rhythmic sensibilities to create an artistic statement that flows across genres and should have a broad appeal. Little Common Twist - amazon.com

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