Cutler, Chris / Zeena Parkins - Shark! CD (Mega Blowout Sale)

“Two extended live duos on drums/objects/electronics & harp/melodica/ electrification. From almost subliminal to searingly intense.”

“This album is very much a game of two halves, consisting as it does of two live imporvisations by Chris Cutler and electric harpist Zeena Parkins (News From Babel, Skelton Crew, Bjork). The style is not that far removed from the Cutler/Frith improvisations, although (perhaps surprisingly) it often comes closer to straight ahead rock music than the guitar/drum duets.
The first half of the album was recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and is by far the better sounding of the two pieces. Unfortunately it's a rather hit and miss affair, although the full range of Cutler's electric drumkit and Parkins' electric harp are well demonstrated. When it all comes together it's quite marvellous, with elastic bass lines emanating from the lower register of the harp, shards of aggressive noise from the higher end and Cutler's ever unpredictable beats lurking beneath. In between there's rather a lot of noodling on random objects and effects that doesn't quite hold the attention, but it generally resolves into something a bit more coherent quickly enough.
The second half was recorded via a single microphone at a concert in Bologna, and what it lacks in sound quality it more than makes up for in intensity and ferocity. Zeena Parkins plays melodica as well as harp, while Cutler stays busier with the main body of his kit than with the table of objects next to it. This has the edge and verve of the best improvised rock music, threatening to degenerate into pure electronic chaos but always finding a way back from the brink, and from the sound of it the duo found themselves facing an appreciative and responsive audience. The image of female harpists as angelic creatures coaxing ethereal, delicate sounds from the air is thoroughly trounced here; Parkins can rock with the best of them, and clearly revels in producing the kind of ear splitting noise more usually associated with the electric guitar.
Free improvisation is unusual in rock music, and there are relatively few musicians who can pull it off convincingly. Chris Cutler is one of the foremost practitioners of rock improvisation today, and Zeena Parkins is a worthy collaborator. Afficianados will enjoy it, newcomers should start with Cutler and Frith's excellent 2 Gentlemen in Verona.”-progarchives
  • UPC752725006026
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