Boomkat Product Review:
The intimate familiarity of friendship and long-running collaboration oozes from the fine-tuned steel strings and prepared piano notes of O’Malley & Pateras’ 2nd collaborative album; a glacial, moonlit homage to departed pals - RIYL Morton Feldman, Michael Pisaro, Loren Connors, Keiji Haino...
‘Sept duos pour guitar acoustique et piano préparé’ continues a longstanding creative union deepened on the 2011-2016 recordings featured on their ‘Rêve Noir’ debut. This new album cleanly swaps out electro-acoustic experimentation for a more plaintive dialogue of O’Malley’s just-intoned strings and the vaporous overtones of Pateras’ prepared piano, which are left to linger in the air with an unhurried conversational quality that draws us right into their mood.
In fact, the album features O’Malley’s most extensive recordings on steel string acoustic guitar (playing an instrument whose previous owners include Marissa Nadler and Glenn Jones), and is Pateras’ return to the prepared piano, which he had rarely employed in recent years, after spending much of the first decade of the 21st century exploring its possibilities. Recorded during a period when the duo were each grieving the loss of recently departed friends and collaborators, these seven pieces possess a reflective, at times almost mournful quality.
Album opener ‘déjà rêvé’ faithfully characterises the duo’s approach to patiently unfolding minimalism with O’Malley’s metallic/acoustic gestures slowly chiming in mid-air with the wilting off key softness of Pateras’ prepared piano, operating to no meter or tempo other than the ponderous speed of late night thought. Unadorned and shy of tricks or stunts, the pathos of their music is stark and enhanced by an inherent use of alternate tuning systems and a sense of displacement from the norm.
The preceding parts make the penultimate ‘déjà trouvé’ feel almost flush with pain, despite its ostensible stillness, before they offer a sense of resolution with only the barest materials in ‘déjà raconte’ that epitomises their long honed ability to make every deliberate note count. It’s a notable departure from either artist’s work in recent years, taking cues from departed friends and musical allies for a solemn, reflective work that’s measured with harmonic nuance.