Nels Cline and Vinny Golia have known and played with each other since the mid-'70s, but this is their first album of duets. Not that either of them is lazy, but they could have gotten to it earlier! The Entire Time offers a wonderful listen, full of daring moves, skillful exchanges and heartfelt friendship. Both players go through a wide array of instruments, ensuring that the set list is varied in terms of sound palette and playing techniques. Golia, always a soulful and highly creative player, treats us to his bass clarinet, alto flute, saxophones, and even xiao and dzi, adding an exotic flavor to some tunes. Cline goes from simple acoustic nylon-string guitar to elaborate set-ups of electric 12-string, effects and loops. "Smooth Surface, The Canals: Two" is the undisputed highlight of the set; its cheerful simplicity, folk overtones and delightful improvised melody on soprano sax place it in its own category. "Opus de Kirkus," a tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, is the only track featuring overdubs. Also quite cheerful, but much more chaotic, it truly embodies the essence of the crazy showman. "City Snow Stories," an improvisation on alto flute and acoustic guitar, delivers dense yet effortless interaction. The album is bookended by two similar 14-minute pieces. Both feature Golia on bass clarinet (and xiao for "Divining") and Cline on electronically-enhanced electric guitar set-up. Both also progress in leaps, jumping from section to section, going from almost textural improvisations to ferocious blowing. Jazz and rock idioms remain present in heavily mutated forms, and Cline gets downright noisy in "Destination Death." This music is resolutely not free improvisation of the European variety. It doesn't attempt to free itself from other idioms, it tries to encompass them all, with an added sense of urgency that keeps it on the verge of explosion. The Entire Time is a gripping listen, the entire time.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture