Loren Connors / David Grubbs

Arborvitae

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It seems like these two should have recorded together before. But Loren MazzaCane Connors and David Grubbs played their first duo concert on May 30, 2003 and went into the studio to record this album a little less than a month later. It is a short set, 34 minutes flat, but it exerts a constant fascination. It is amazing how such slow, silence-filled music can keep you on the edge of your seat. It seems it should be a relaxing listen and maybe, if you don't pay close attention, it can be just that. But if you do pay attention, you'll notice that the music gets redefined with every note or chord played, which makes it unpredictable. And free. Connors plays his electric guitar throughout, shifting between floating singled-out notes, and overdriven walls of crunch -- sometimes only the warning sign of a pedal being stomped is the only thing separating the two. Grubbs plays the first two pieces at the piano, then moves to electric guitar for two, and sits back at the grand for the last number. His guitar playing is friendly to Connors' mood swings: delicate, nonintrusive, yet influential in the course of the piece. At the piano he distillates ersatz of melodies post-rock style, i.e. following a severe "less is more" approach while keeping in touch with tonality. In "The Highest Point in Brooklyn" he switches to tempestuous chord ripples to match the intensity of Connors' overdriven drone -- the finale is graced by a timely ambulance passing by in the street, you can hardly make it out as the last piano chord dies out. Except for the last 30 seconds of "Hemlock Path," there is not a weak moment on Arborvitae. If you are allergic to post-rockish dreaminess, be warned, but otherwise please step in. There are delights awaiting.

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