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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Shoe & Shoelace - Life In A Shoebox (Zvocni Prepihi, Sound Draughts, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Shoe & Shoelace is the duo of Jaka Berger on drums, preparations and modular synth and Jure Borsic on sax, clarinet and preparations. If I had to comment, straight on, about any resemblances, that would be XT, the duo of saxophonist Seymour Wright and percussionist Paul Abbott. Both duos seem to share a more experimental and electronic approach to the traditional free jazz duo of sax and drums.

Life in a Shoebox was recorded early on 2021 at the Club Metuji, but I’m not sure if this is a totally live recording. On the press sheet for the CD there’s a mention about the coexistence of organic and electronic (manipulated could be even more precise) sounds, which I consider as the key element to understand what goes on the CD. As some of you might have read (on a review here about Berger’s take on Cornelious Cardew’s Treatise), the Slovenian percussionist is at ease when changing styles.

His approach on the drums, on Life in a Shoebox, reminded his idiosyncratic take on Treatise, a work of music quite open but also one that carries a certain burden. Both musicians seem to follow an electroacoustic and less jazzy path for the chosen instruments, moving as far away from jazz as possible. But is this something to care about or, even, worth mentioning?

Well, I think it is. They willingly take the risk to get out of the comfort zone named jazz, without lowering the level of energy that jazz (at least jazz outside the classic jazz spectrum) requires. The both play aggressively and their interplay, the wordless communication is outstanding. At some points, I dare to comment, I felt that something new and never heard before is in the making. Plus, to be honest, the XT mention is always a compliment as the Wright/Abbott duo is one of the few that constantly keeps pushing things ahead.

Living on the peripheries of Europe, as both of them I guess they do, provides many times the antidote to the saturation of sounds that listeners of the big hubs, of the western world, for improvisation, suffer. Both artists seem to be on their own path, one that fortunately brings them together on this CD. Let’s hope they will continue this way. The artwork of Mateji Stupica adds more to this fine release.