Steve Beresford

Ointment

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Material from duo performances in both 2002 and 2003 blends together as easily as a series of diary pages in this wonderful CD from Steve Beresford and Tania Chen. Beresford fans wondering if this is his "romantic" song direction or his noise music can be assured it is the latter -- and on a very high level at that. Not just fast-food noise but a caviar of din; better yet, forget that image, this is improvised music which creates a sense of time and place well beyond a single-meal setting. At one point a kind of fantasy of toy instruments "growing up" into something else entirely came to mind, in one sense inspired after recognizing an organ-like tone setting similar to something Beresford played on another record sometime back in the '80s. The titles chosen for improvised music pieces are sometimes quite useful in discerning philosophical intent or creative touchstones: Ointment may trump all in that regard. While this text has already referenced dinner menus and diaries, the set of ten duos on Ointment seem to have been named in honor of lab experiments, perhaps undertaken in a cosmetics lab. The term experimental music is sometimes used simply to dismiss half-assed weirdness -- yet this duo, theoretically, should revel in such a description. These pieces involve not only intense concentration but the continuing introduction and development of sounds that, in general, require and benefit only from further manipulation. There are very few ideas that are simply obvious blockbusters. Instead we have two somewhat merry, certainly preoccupied, individuals inserting ideas into simmering beakers, twisting lids off specimen jars, merging in tandem or splitting atoms, hairs, even the check. The trusted research assistant Ygor, no stranger to lab conditions and processes himself, registered one complaint about this recording. "I forgot I was listening to music and started worrying that there was something wrong with the printer running in the room." This is worth mentioning, as fans of this genre often regard the large number of available free improvisation recordings as intimidating, wonder which ones to buy, and need to be reminded: just get sessions that make you afraid something in your house is broken.

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