Warp & Woof

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The Montréal duo Detention released its first album, Warp & Woof, on the young Alberta (Canada) label Arrival Records. The unit of drummer Alexander MacSween and guitarist Sam Shalabi had been active since 1998, but this first offering somehow fails to convey the energy these two can produce in a live setting. Their freeform improvisations owe more to rock than jazz, but that doesn't rule out subtlety. Shalabi gets the chance to show his chops a lot more here than in his atmospheric group Shalabi Effect. MacSween reveals himself to be a resourceful drummer, with enough tricks in his bag so that his playing doesn't feel the least bit repetitive on this CD. The energetic numbers provide a lot of enjoyable moments, a peak being reached on "Big Thighs/Ginger," but a problem arises on the softer tracks. The music gets sloppy, disembodied, and emptied of its meaning (especially on "Slow Dance/Shey"). It gives the impression that Warp & Woof only brushes the surface of this duo's potential. All the same, Detention's music is more visceral and organic than Vertrek Ensemble's, another Canadian guitar/drums duo whose drummer Ron de Jong owns Arrival Records. One original point: Each track bears two titles, as if each musician had submitted his own list.

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