Review: Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt – Brace Up! (Palilalia, Nov 2)

Derek Bailey and Han Bennink’s live album (1972’s aptly titled Derek Bailey & Han Bennink) easily has one of my favorite album covers. And after listening to it last night, I thought about something else that makes it great: that it’s FUN. A bit scary at times, with the screaming and whatnot, but in the end it is just two creative, talented improvisers having a grand time making noise. The second studio LP from the duo of Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt, Brace Up!, shares this quality. Corsano and Orcutt are not only experienced in the art of group improvisation in their own rights, but they’ve also been playing together since at least 2013, when The Raw and the Cooked was released. You can truly hear the wordless two-person language in which they have become fluent; Corsano’s frenetic, free-form flurries are always just slightly cursed with rhythm, and some of the record’s best moments come about when Orcutt’s torturous, resonant attack of the guitar strings retreats slightly and they tease out that tiny bit of order for even a second or two. But then again, there’s no sense of convention necessary in the beautifully organic “She Punched a Hole in the Moon for Me” (which I’m 80% sure is a reference to Scott Pilgrim). Plus the album cover is hilarious, and pretty representative of what the music sounds like—but don’t be fooled; there is some gorgeous stuff on this.

Buy the LP here.