Chris Cutler


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Shark presents two extended free improvisations (35 minutes each) by Chris Cutler and Zeena Parkins. Despite the fact that they have played together in numerous contexts and obviously share musical affinities, the material doesn't sound as strong and involved as one could expect. "QEH" (standing for Queen Elizabeth Hall, where it was recorded) is kept very quiet, the drummer noodling around with small objects, the electric harpist plucking or bowing light figures. Silence doesn't become the tension-builder or the introspection-inducer it could have been; instead it only shows the two improvisers looking around for something to play, unable to sustain the piece's interest. The number of index points in these continuous works -- 15 in each of them -- constitutes another illustration of the level of unrest. "Link," although recorded under worse conditions (one-room microphone), is overall better -- and not only because Cutler focuses more on the drum kit. His awkward beats inspire Parkins to slash at the harp, the two getting closer to instant composition (with fragments of song structures emerging) than pure free improv. A melodica interlude from Parkins threatens to stir things off course, but the percussionist recoups, bringing the improvisation to a gentle halt with some delicate stick work. Both artists have released far better material.

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