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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Okkyung Lee / Bill Orcutt- Live at Cafe Oto (Otoruko, 2016) ****½

Okkyung Lee and Bill Orcutt are two of the most unique musicians performing today. Lee is perhaps the most dynamic and virtuosic cellist working in improvised music. Orcutt was half of the pioneering band Harry Pussy, who took a long break before returning to live performance sounding like a blues guitarist from an alien civilization. The combined list of their past collaborations reads like a who’s who guide to modern improvisational and weirdo music. This new album, as the title suggests, was recorded at the near legendary London club Cafe Oto in November of last year.

The album starts slowly, moving along like a tumbleweed that catches fire bringing hell’s wrath to those standing before it. Arco squeals set against hard picked stings dip into sustained tones and slowly evolving short clusters prior to the duo launching into the cold darkness of outer space. Moments are so percussive it is easy to forget you are listening to two string players.

The B-side establishes an immediate groove, briefly suggesting a structured song whose architecture is rapidly abandoned, or perhaps more accurately, demolished. The rest of the side is built upon the ruins of the opening, reminding me of the graffiti covered concrete submarine watch towers that dotted the North Carolina coast of my childhood. The music is completely subversive as the duo destroys their work in an unending creative search. A brief moment of chatter between Orcutt and Lee leads to a distorted, squalling final assault upon the listener’s ears.

An excellent example of the power and promise of improvised music.

The duo has some European tour date's coming up:
  • 24/9  -Copenhagen @ Jazzhouse
  • 25/9 - Rotterdam @ Koffie & Ambacht
  • 26/9 - Brussels @ Les Ateliers Claus
  • 27/9 - Paris @ Instants Chavires
  • 28/9 - London @ Cafe Oto
  • 29/9 - Glasgow @ Glad Cafe


maxaplentis said...

this is incredible . listening constantly