Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas

Other World

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Other World, the collaborative album by Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas, might seem an unlikely pairing on the surface, but its roots lie in an acquaintance and mutual admiration decades old. Hammill invited the New York guitarist to his studio in Bath to see what might transpire. Hammill sings; both men play guitars and add electronic treatments to the proceedings. "Spinning Coins" is a near pastoral folk ballad, with strummed acoustic guitars and Lucas' colorful, single-string digital delay effects that spiral yet restrain themselves under the vocal. On the brooding "Some Kind of Fracas," reverbed electric and acoustic guitars underscore the intensity and tension in Hammill's delivery. "Built from Scratch" and "Attar of Roses" are sequential instrumentals. On the former, feedback, harmonics, and a repetitive chord pattern frame a mercurial, even fractured sense of melody. The latter is even more abstract but contains a pronounced flamenco tinge as rounded, watery effects commingle with the duo's meandering guitars as they improvise. "This Is Showbiz" is a rumbling blues with Hammill's wry, bitter lyric in tandem with Lucas showcasing his abundant knowledge of and extrapolation from fingerpicked Delta forms -- before a bridge adds a touch of jazz syncopation. Nice! "Black Ice" is a rocker with completely improvised middle and closing sections, featuring squalling guitars and effects, while "The Kid" is rooted in the blues tradition, and Lucas' playing delivers abundantly. Hammill, however, offers sleight of hand and imbues his singing with elements from folk and prog simultaneously. "2 Views" is a spacious, almost cinematic love song with "found" layered chorus vocals adding drama to its elegance -- it contains Hammill's finest vocal on the set. Other World's closing pieces are also instrumentals. The snarling, if brief, "Means to End" is a rockist tease and countered by the graceful, gossamer ambience in "Slippery Slope." Other World is a fine album, and one where this pair's creative reach feels nearly boundless.

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