Pat Thomas

Certain Questions

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Since 1999 or so, Swiss violist Charlotte Hug has been developing her improvising talents and a distinct sound among the free improv community in London. That's where she met Pat Thomas, and the pair recorded this studio session in December 2000. Thomas plays only synthesizers and electronics, no piano this time. His contribution tends to drown the frail viola. Hug throws in about every possible extended technique: playing under the bridge, using the body of the instrument for percussive effect, bow pressure, and more. Her gestures can be violent at times, but are generally kept sparse to leave room for silence or, in this case, Thomas' outbursts. Strangely, the ambient recording fails to translate the spatial dimension of her music. The keyboardist displays a lot of invention, but in the end the contrast between the two musicians is just too big to make it work. There are strong moments, particularly in "q.03" and "q.08," but otherwise the contributions clash instead of meeting. Compared to the attuned subtlety of Hug's album with Maggie Nichols and Caroline Kraabel (Transitions, 2002), Certain Questions raises many interrogations indeed. Both musicians have proven they can do better than that.