Ayaya Moses is the first CD by the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet. It was recorded in the studios of Radio-Canada in 1996 and captured the quartet at its early stage. The material found here can be split into three categories. First, there are pieces by outsider composers, the Italian Olivia Bignardi and the Québécois Claude Vivier. These contemporary pieces were rearranged by the quartet, and Vivier's "Pulau Dewata" works particularly well, developing around a simple melodic structure into a very personal world. The second category is made of contributions from band members. Each guitarist brought one piece. Fred Frith's "Freedom Is Your Friends II" is an excerpt from "Freedom in Fragments," written for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, while Nick Didkovsky's "She Closes Her Sister With Heavy Bones" is taken from a larger piece for chamber orchestra. They both contrast with Mark Stewart's textural "Trummings." René Lussier's "Ayaya Moses" is the strongest piece, written especially for this quartet and making use of all its possibilities. Finally, there are a handful of short collective improvisations arranged in suites. More serious and industrious than the subsequent Upbeat, Ayaya Moses showcases four gifted avant-garde guitarists applying their talent to demanding compositions. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by François Couture