Derek Bailey


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Despite the presence of that all-feedback Neil Young rarity out there somewhere, certain sections of this CD of a half-dozen performances of British free improvisation rate as highlights in the history of feedback. Inevitably, that is not the most appealing combination of sounds Derek Bailey and Alex Ward come up with, in fact the very reason for mentioning it so emphatically at the outset is in order not to forget it altogether. In combining the guitar and clarinet respectively, players of such superb technical ability could of course simply play with a pure and clean sound, bouncing sophisticated harmonic ideas off each other as if mixing drinks. That Bailey and Ward do, although it sometimes bristles with impatience, bringing to mind an older and younger man simultaneously searching for lost car keys in an apartment. The instruments can sound exactly alike, separated at birth, when Bailey makes feedback and Ward imitates him, an amusing similarity since in the case of both axes the feedback and squeaking can be created simply by losing control. Experts in this style of music will know, however, that it is impossible to come up with such a perfect imitation of another instrument while out of control. At least in theory.

That type of listener would hardly seem to need to be steered toward this CD, nor warned that some sections will literally make one's teeth hurt. The collection features both live and at-home improvisations created between late 1998 and early 1999. The relationship between the two performers could also be familiar to avant-garde buffs, Ward showing up in the life of Bailey when the former was but a precociously talented teenager. Ward's playing continues to deepen, his sincere commitment to both the clarinet and the art of free improvisation a thing to be commended. Ward also got Bailey to record tracks for other projects involving more arranged, sometimes composed, inevitably heavily edited music. The process was time consuming, involving multiple recording visits. Finally Bailey told Ward "You can come over to play, but no more recording." The oddly titled LOCationAL shows the wisdom of having the tape machines running.

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