Apertura means aperture, an opening -- in this case into an eternal field of sound with no beginning and no ending, just the opening and closing of an iris. This duet of David Grubbs and Mats Gustafsson is in name only; personality is veiled in the drone of sound. Grubbs' harmonium creates a shifting chordal sea of sound waves building and receding but never reaching shore; Gustafsson navigates this flux on tenor sax and fluteophone, sailing in and around Grubbs' chords with both a quickening pace and growing intensity as sounds stretch and contract around common pitches. Listening to this disc can be a cartographic challenge: What is figure and what is ground? What is saxophone and what is harmonium? As you reach for the pen to plot the horn, you hear Gustafsson inhale -- have you misjudged? Was that the horn or was he circular breathing? This recording is closer in spirit to Phill Niblock, Tony Conrad, and Morton Feldman than to Grubbs' rocker past (Squirrel Bait, Bastro,Gastr del Sol) or to Gustafsson's jazzer credentials (Gush, the AALY Trio, the Peter Brötzmann Tentet). While Feldman took inspiration in the patterns of oriental rugs, this duo seems to have found their motivation in the play of shadows on a snowfield. Recordings such as this are often dismissed with the intended pejorative drone, but the subtle interplay at work here demonstrates the depth that can exist on the surface. Apertura's warm tonality offers a wonderful starting point for the uninitiated before moving onto more aggressive drone works by Niblock or Conrad.
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AllMusic Review by Damon Stanek
feat: Mats Gustafsson