John Russell

The Second Sky

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It is not surprising if John Russell and Roger Turner sound like a single voice -- as the CD leaflet notes, their first duo gig was in 1977, preceding the instant studio recording by more than 24 years! London's Emanem label has done a yeoman's job in documenting these two highly individualistic, uncharacteristically adventurous fellows, who twist tones with an acoustic clarity that belies the complexity of the final product. Their music is full of surprises, although -- to be sure -- those who have followed the careers of these experienced revolutionaries will be accustomed to the unique blends sprouting from their instruments. As with all of their concoctions, there is never any melody, the pieces being fully improvised. The volume is fairly uniform, neither unduly loud nor soft. The nuance is in the texture, which is plenty varied. Scrapes, dings, and all sorts of rattled sounds come and go, with Russell's relaxed guitar a fine foil for Turner's less conventional percussive outbursts. Very much a product of the British avant-garde, free improvisation scene in their serious radicalism, these nine numbers surprise over and over with inventiveness and creativity. The atonal, meandering qualities assure that this recording will never, ever hit the charts nor receive any commercial radio air time, but that says nothing about the real quality and joy this music of extremes is likely bring to a dedicated, if tiny, contingent, who will revel in its mysteries.

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