The second album of Boston-based improvising duo Nmperign finds soprano saxophonist Bhob Rainey and trumpeter Greg Kelley joined by tape loop manipulator Jason Lescalleet (on "Laughter of Birds Bloody Mud"), shakuhachi virtuoso Philip Gelb, and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani (on "The Moon Is a Clear Mark of Midnight"). Recorded in 1999 at a time when Rainey and Kelley were "listening to a lot of Cage and Bernhard Günter, using them as examples of how to work our way out of improv pitfalls," these five tracks are challenging but by no means forbidding listening experiences. Though both are virtuoso practitioners of so-called "extended techniques" (witness Rainey's solo work on "Sweet Sonk," included on Crouton Music's Folktales, Vol. 2, and Kelley's extraordinary Trumpet on Meniscus and If I Never Meet You in This Life, Let Me Feel the Lack on Rossbin), their music is no mere empty display of virtuosity for its own sake, but rather a compelling investigation of sound in space and time. It's no simple exercise in delicate lowercase pointillism either; Lescalleet's cheap electronics and trashed speakers add grit and urgency to the second track, while the additional timbres of Gelb's shakuhachi and Nakatani's percussion add warmth, depth, and color to close the album magnificently.
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AllMusic Review by Dan Warburton