Noël Akchoté / Derek Bailey

Close to the Kitchen (London Guitar Duos August 96)

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This album was first released in a limited-edition LP by the French label Rectangle in 1996. The Chicago-based Blue Chopsticks reissued it on CD in the summer of 2001 and we should thank this company. Derek Bailey records often with very different people, but this session stands out as one of his best from the second half of the '90s. At the time of this recording, in August 1996, Noël Akchoté was still part of Benoît Delbecq's group the Recyclers. His guitar technique had developed into a highly personal idiom. The two guitarists met in a studio and performed some of their best music. Bailey plays unusually relaxed, using silence and texture in a way rarely heard from him. Akchoté alternates between delicate plucking on prepared guitar and frenetic playing lying somewhere between René Lussier, Thurston Moore, and Bailey. Both use only electric guitars, although sometimes they play them unplugged (as in "Toi et Moi"). The opener, "Pas la Montagne!," is so energy-packed it gets scary. Each one of the six tracks is a lesson in active listening and improvising outside of the clichés. Close to the Kitchen went by rather unnoticed on its first release -- grab this second chance, you won't regret it. In Akchoté's discography, this one is a must-have; by Bailey's standards, it is still a remarkable album.

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