Derek Bailey

Wireforks: Guitar Duets

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Derek Bailey's music was the original reason Henry Kaiser picked up the guitar, so one can imagine how pleased Kaiser was when Bailey agreed to record a duo performance with him, his first with another guitarist. Kaiser's own output had been wildly inconsistent both in genres covered (everything from Grateful Dead tunes to Vietnamese music to free improv) and in quality, so the listener may have approached this project with misgivings on one of two accounts: 1) Kaiser's tendency toward a slick, rockish sound might not mesh well with Bailey's or 2) Conversely, Kaiser might suffer the fate of other collaborators and overly defer to one of the reigning demigods of contemporary improvised music. Happily, neither occurs.

Throughout the album, the playing is nuanced and sensitive, with each player clearly listening to one another. While each guitarist is instantly recognizable (Kaiser somewhat more melodic and "traditional," Bailey, of course, sounding only like Bailey), both play off of each other's leads, neither being deferential nor domineering. The disc progresses from very soft, delicate opening pieces to somewhat denser, more angular constructions as more live electronic processing is introduced. At the beginning of the final track, one can hear Kaiser alerting the engineer that the ensuing piece is "going to be loud. Watch out." The duo then lets loose with a mini-maelstrom of raging electronics, screeching guitar feedback, and stuttering clicks, bringing the proceedings to a rich, satisfying conclusion.

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