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Ascension is a two-person collaborative unit consisting of noise guitarist Stefan Jaworzyn and drummer Tony Irving. Live/Dead, a bare-bones LP released in 1994, documents two sessions: the duo's first live performance in March of 1993 and a studio recording made in November of that year. Jaworzyn shows the strong influence of free players like Derek Bailey but, at this stage in his development, can't seem to shake certain rockish pyrotechnics. On the three individually untitled segments of the "Live" side of this album, Jaworzyn tries to play as abrasively and loudly as possible, but finds it difficult to avoid the posturing and clich├ęs of your garden-variety metalhead and any sense of listening to his partner seems absent. On the latter, side-long studio cut, "Dead," he appears to have made substantial progress; the duo performs more as a unit, Jaworzyn reins in his showboating, and a reasonably effective high-energy improvisation is the result.

As an introduction to the world of free improv for the adventurous hard rocker, this recording may offer some value. For those listeners weaned on Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, or Keith Rowe, little new ground is covered.

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