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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Secret Keeper - Emerge (Intakt, 2015) ****

By Paul Acquaro

The concert for Secret Keeper's latest recording Emerge was at the Cornelia Street Cafe - and down in the cozy basement club space, it felt a bit like being in on a well kept secret itself. It was an intimate show as the duo of guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Stephen Crump captivated the attentive crowd for the evening.

Emerge is the pair's second recording under the name Secret Keeper and it is a another great example of their sympathetic and telepathic playing. The duo delivers composed and intricate melodies, with nice balanced counter motions, but they also surprise by suddenly throwing caution to the wind and diving into some aggressive passages.

The opener "What'll I Do" begins tentatively, Crump provides a loose foundation and Halvorson slowly drops musical pieces into place. They are building up to something: the squiggles of guitar and the bass runs become stronger and the music denser as the track continues. 'Emerge' starts big with vibrant chords and melody from the guitar and deep sells from the bass and 'In Time You Yell', things become agitated and the playing heavier. Halvorson leans on her inner rocker and uses power chords and purposeful slashing strumming before quickly pivoting to pointy arpeggiated lines and unusual chord voicings. Meanwhile Crump is a often a grounding element, providing a base that sometimes just cracks wide open.

This is a keeper of an album, literally dripping with atmosphere.