Click here to [close]

Sunday, March 17, 2013

John Edwards & Okkyung Lee – White Cable, Black Wires (Fataka, 2013) ****

By Dan Sorrells

Double bass and cello: a celebration of the bass clef if there ever was one!  And with John Edwards and Okkyung Lee, no typical exercise in the art of the low-end. White Cable, Black Wires is nothing short of a symphony of percussive clatter, tweaked harmonics, rumbling clangor, buzzing strings, hollow woody thumps, and stuttering dances of bow and fingers. While a good portion of freely improvised music has retreated into hideaways of tiny detail or obscured instrumentation, White Cable, Black Wires remains refreshingly connected to the cathartic, embodied heft of free jazz, an unmistakably human act of passion and musicianship. It’s a collection of improvisations that cannot fail to remind the listener of the sweaty, physical nature of playing these large instruments.

There’s a heart-pumping, driving energy to White Cable, Black Wires that hardly subsides for the duration of its 45 minute running time. “WCBW II” erupts into streaming trails of high-pitched notes, like the peals of bottlerockets launching skyward. “WCBW III” starts at a slower pace, but the level of energy remains: a taut, hair-raising tension that increases with each guttural drag of the bow. As the piece falls away to near silence halfway through, you’re left with the pounding of the blood in your temples, holding your breath in anticipation as the activity slowly returns to a boil. Later, “WCBW V” stumbles to a close with quivering runs of cello over muted, low bass thrums that sound seismic, deeply subterranean.

White Cable, Black Wires frontlines two obscenely talented improvisers who can sometimes take a backseat next to the “big names” they keep company with. If you’re anything like me, though, theirs are the names that draw your eye when seeking out exhilarating music. It also marks another resounding success for Fataka, quickly becoming a label to watch on the improv scene.

Listen to an excerpt from “WCBW I:”

By © stef