Black Forest/Black Sea

Radiant Symmetry

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Pieced together from seven different shows performed between February and April of 2004, and rushed out three months later by the label Last Visible Dog, Radiant Symmetry portrays Black Forest/Black Sea for what they truly are: a live droning band keen on collaborations. Six of the nine tracks feature guests adding layers to the sweet tonal/atonal dirges of Miriam Goldberg (cello) and Jeffrey Alexander (guitar/banjo). The duo has been stepping away from the new folk stance of the Iditarod, and here they are found playing music that floats by itself, as if each track plugged in and out of an eternal musical current. Most pieces exist around a tonal center provided by the cello (or, in the case of the last of these untitled tracks, Harry Sumnall's electric tamboura). Simple melodies occasionally surface, chords and atonal textures coexist as the distinction between musicality and noise subsides. The addition of bouzouki (Christoph Hladowski), clarinet (Daniel Padden), and percussion (Alex Neilson) on track one produces the strangest lineup, closer to European free improvisation than the so-called "New Weird America." Jan Anderzén's odd keyboard on track six brings an unexpected "vintage sci-fi" touch. But the best contributions come from guitarist Nick Talbot on track five, weaving contrapuntal dialogues with Alexander, and the Lazily Spun's Harry Sumnall in the closing 15-minute piece, an uncharted form of raga, so peaceful and rich, if a bit too long. The beautiful artwork emphasizes the symmetry announced in the title -- the music takes care of the radiancy.

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