Boomkat Product Review:
A fittingly haunting testament to Ghédalia Tazartès’s otherworldly vision, featuring the late, great spirit playing with another legend, Rhys Chatham at a private show in a Parisian garden, and a festival in Montreuil, France
Possibly the last recording of Tazartès in typically spellbinding action, ‘Two Men In A Boat’ offers a front row seat to a pair of performances held 2018 and 2019, where the nomadic singer was documented in ever intuitive alignment with pioneering guitarist Chatham, whom he’d only met once before, in 1977. That meeting would have been circa the recording of Tazartès’ blinding debut ‘Diasporas’, which introduced his singular, uncompromising blend of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) language vocals and Greek heritage to the French avant-garde, and just years before his ‘Transports’ album was included on the NWW list. Skip forward 20 peerless Tazartès albums and an extensive oeuvre established in parallel by Chatham, and this album captures the two deeply learned, autodidactic artists in deep conversation, drawing on an incredibly rich well of knowledge and spirit for these entrancing recordings that render the two in remarkable, quietly concentrated symbiosis.
Tazartès’ vox typically explore the frequency spectrum between near throat-singing styled growls and his unnerving higher register flights, in tandem with Chatham’s loops of electric guitar, trumpet and flute. The pair strike a lowkey stunning equilibrium, often operating on the edge of silence, and reserving a filigree grasp of sublime tension and affective tunings that quiver the third eye, with Chatham located thousands of miles from his massed guitar orchestrations, but still possessed by peculiar tunings. From the results, frankly we’re jealous of anyone in attendance at that Parisian garden performance, as one can only imagine the levels of beauty in context with an audience who knew what they were witnessing (as opposed to the chatty “art crowd” doyles who spoiled Tazartès’ show we saw at Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery in 2016; he was visibly gutted with them).
For anyone more familiar with Tazartès’s cut-up concrète stuff, this is not that. But it is some of the most spellbinding, life-affirming music, just simply incomparable and a totally worthy testament to a legacy we fear may never be repeated, as this is a music rich with experience and humbling daring of the rarest kind. R.I.P., G.