Boomkat Product Review:
London-based guitarist and producer Leo Abrahams and NYC master musician (and boss of figureight records) Shahzad Ismaily unite for a unique imagining of guitar music on Visitations.
"The work of two highly skilled, highly celebrated musicians, Visitations marks a curious, mysterious, uncanny collection of music, offering a take on guitar playing that snakes and collides with unexpected turns. It encourages - requires even - a deep listening experience, every discordance balanced with harmony, every darkness balanced with light; it is eloquent and subtle in equal measure. Influenced by the meditative, subtly changing cellular iterations of Morton Feldman and the sonic austerity of early Roy Montgomery, these minimalistic and anti-virtuosic pieces are not easily categorised. Abrahams writes “Visitations represents the sound of two slightly jet-lagged fellow-travellers saying hello to each other, before passing on through.”
Perhaps it is inevitable that the meeting point of two such musicians would yield a record so powerful and singular as Visitations. Leo Abrahams is a Royal Academy graduate, a collaborator of Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, Jarvis Cocker, David Holmes, Regina Spektor, Jon Hopkins and Paul Simon, and a filmscore composer. He has released numerous solo albums and is listed with production, performance and arrangement credits on countless more. Shahzad Ismaily plays a host of instruments - guitar, electric and double bass, banjo, accordion, flute, drums and electronic instruments. He is a member of Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog band as well as Secret Chiefs 3 and Ex Eye (with Colin Stetson and Greg Fox). His list of collaborators is astonishing. It includes Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laraaji, Laura Veirs, Bonnie Prince Billy, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Feist, Bryce Dessner, Dustin O'Halloran, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Oren Ambarchi, Damien Rice, JFDR among countless more.
Interestingly, the two musicians had featured on many of the same recordings without ever having met. Eventually they crossed paths in London and over the course of the next year, whenever they found themselves in the same city, they would take an hour to improvise together. The palette was deliberately simple - two electric guitars, straight into the desk. It was recorded at Abrahams’ Coronet studio in London and Ismaily’s Figure 8 in Brooklyn."