It's onward, ever onward for New Zealand's foremost guitar experimentalist, Dean Roberts. Before you know it, he'll be as ubiquitous as Thurston Moore, a New Music gadfly gatecrashing every weird feast going. The latest outpost in a transition from lo-fi humstrum to Destination Unknown sees Roberts shacked up with avant-Austrian Werner Dafeldecker bassist in Improv group Polwechsel.
Expect: grinchy crackling, like the amplified sound of grit disintegrating. Imagine: bric-a-brac, debris, splinters, all stroked, scraped and scratched. Hear: loudspeaker hum, sine tone fever, lumbering guitar-borne jumble to delight and distract. Stepping away from what with hindsight can be seen as the relatively structured audiodrama of other recent recordings, Roberts has plunged headlong into the deepest waters of free Improv abstraction. For Aluminium, he and Dafeldecker sat together in a studio with electronics, electric guitars, and a shared hi-hat placed between them. I imagine their brief was 'to sound like AMM', although the album that results is often more patient and minimal than improv's old masters.
Patience, indeed, is the name of the game, as high-pitched drones drift very gently before soft, lumbering guitar chimes join the party. This is music that's deeply reserved, frugal at best, albeit still with a shy charisma. Simplicity is the watchword, not drama, and if you were to imagine a scrpayard filled with hesitant but unruffled ghosts, you might come close to the sound of Aluminium. After a while, the crackles and creaks begin to sound like strange wildlife, like a jungle recording made from inside a power transformer. (The Wire, Brian Duguid)