Boomkat Product Review:
Jim O'Rourke teams up with Swedish improv master Mats Gustafsson on this bumped-up reissue of a classic 1999 set. Gustaffson's mostly on tenor sax and flute and O'Rourke's on guitar and accordion - together they infect each other's sounds (O'Rourke's melancholy deconstructed Americana splatter, and Gustaffson's post-Brötzmann skronk) with back-n-forth levity and animation.
Featuring a suite of unreleased material from the same ACME Studios session, and remixed and remastered by O'Rourke, this definitive version of' Xylophone Virtuosen' is dedicated to British guitar vanguard Derek Bailey, and finds the players at their most uncompromising, shifting wildly from throaty gurgles, junk clangs, and plucked dissonance, to tender cyclic folk mutation and out-jazz groaning. It's not intended to be an easy listen, assembled as a document of a time and place than put together with any particular demographic in mind. Both musicians sound as if they're locked in friendly competition, attempting not to outplay each other, but slip into the perfect level of transformative, improvised bliss.
At its best, 'Xylophone Virtuosen' drifts into complete dissonance as guitar and sax are reduced to percussive clicks and breathy blasts. It's a testament to both players' skills that they're able to slide so seamlessly from these abrasive modes into music that almost sounds like juke joint blues before you've even noticed what's happened.