So named for the famed Berkeley recording studio where this session took place, Arch Duo finds longtime cohorts Derek Bailey and Evan Parker engaging in a 70-minute conversation. In the next few years, the relationship between the two would mysteriously erode to the point where they became entirely estranged, making this event all the more singular. Much of this disc is what fans of the two musicians would likely expect: strong though non-pyrotechnic improvising created through fine listening on the part of each. The third track (though a continuous performance, track divisions are provided) features some especially intense work, Bailey rubbing his strings furiously while Parker's soprano goes skirling to extreme heights. The following sections begin with some sardonic vocal commentary from Bailey before moving into some of the most abstract but rewarding portions of the set. Less lyrically than the first half, Bailey and Parker get more into the so-called "insect improv" aesthetic of their early days together, generating fascinating, bubbling hives of activity that sound at once alien and everyday, though the part of the everyday that normally operates below one's perception. Within the respective lengthy and hugely productive careers of these two figures, it would be tough to single Arch Duo out as especially crucial; each has produced more major statements in other contexts. But it's a solid, tough, creative document that fans of either or both will certainly want to hear.
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick