Duo improvised recordings are often among the most powerfully singular music I come across, and as such I try to listen to a great deal of them. This allows me to further parse the particular recording into two groups, based on the relationship and interplay between the improvisers: either two artists with already well-developed styles are paired together, and each individual’s contributions are easily discernible, or the duo forms a sort of collective entity, not exactly playing off each other but instead creating a communal pool or mixture of sound. qb belongs to the latter group. Though I’m not familiar with either Quost or Berger, it would be difficult to separate their additions even if I was. The two pieces on qb are hulking amalgams of sustained textures and drones from a variety of sources, and the fascinating but opaque results when all of these disparate sound objects meet make it difficult, and unnecessary, to know ‘who’s doing what.’ There’s a sense of impact and implication in each sound; since the pieces were recorded in a single room, the yawning squeals of speaker feedback and tensile string-box drones affect other elements like the clattering prepared drum. The timbres here are harsh, but not alienatingly so. Instead, the grating tension that never seems to stop building is more meditative, even cathartic, especially near the end of “B,” a five minute stretch that some’s of the best improvised material I’ve heard so far this year.
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