Burnt Friedman

Secret Rhythms, Vol. 2

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As the title indicates, it's the second full collaboration between the two performers, or at least the second in the series, following on the first from 2002. Working with a number of other guests, most notably Burnt Friedman's Nine Horses bandmate David Sylvian, the duo create eight tracks which are enjoyable if not always immediately stunning. But the subtlety is actually Secret Rhythms, Vol. 2's strength -- coming here for the second coming of, say, "Halleluwah" is missing the point. Jaki Liebezeit's skill as a hypnotic drummer remains strong, as the deceptively low-key performance on "The Sticks" makes clear -- quick fills and careful shifts between drums and cymbals revolve around the central beat, with Friedman's keyboards ably creating the core textures and melodies which other performers add to. (Special notice should be given to Tim Molzer's acoustic and electric guitar parts throughout.) "Fearer" is another standout, with just a hint of dub echo at points expanding the reach of both Liebezeit's steady beat and Friedman's equally important -- almost relentless -- single piano note. At times the two lead performers almost seem to disappear behind their guests, but the results are often quite intriguing -- thus, on "Niedrige Decken," Liebezeit's drumming is initially barely there, with Hayden Chisholm's clarinet playing lead, until at two minutes in Liebezeit begins a killer groove that transforms the song. Sylvian's guest turn is on a song originally done with Nine Horses, "The Librarian." It's interesting to hear just the first signs of a rougher, older Sylvian starting to surface in his voice, but it works perfectly nonetheless, while Liebezeit's background cymbal fills, treated more as texture than rhythm, are a beautiful touch.

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