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Keith Rowe, Fennesz

Live at the LU

Label: Erstwhile Records

Format: CD

Genre: Experimental

In stock


Recorded in May of 2002, almost a year after Fennesz' surprisingly successful (commercially) release, Endless Summer, one might have expected that this pairing would produce an intriguing collision of opposing forces. On the one hand you have all the pop-influenced, steamily melodic and erotic explorations that Fennesz had developed in the prior years. Countering that, one could readily imagine Keith Rowe as saboteur, finding rifts in the smooth mass to deviously penetrate and deflate. This doesn't happen. Instead, the two lock horns immediately and engage in 40-plus minutes of intense sparring, often throwing up nearly opaque walls of harsh, even brutal sound, almost daring the listener to enter.

For the first half of the performance, this tactic works brilliantly, with Rowe} leagues away from the introspective, quieter work he was generally creating around this time (as in his work with Toshimaru Nakamura, for example). He opts for the dense, layered manner of his brilliant 3" disc on Sound 323, 29 October 2001, summoning billowing, metallic drones and utilizing his array of handheld fans to evoke hordes of angry wasps. Fennesz is with him every step of the way; if his contributions have a very slightly more tonal content, it's only in contrast (just the briefest snatch of dance music pokes its head through). He does fill out the sound-space quite beautifully, contributing immensely to the corporeal effect of the music. It's a furious onslaught and, for about 20 minutes, as inspired and intense music as you're likely to hear anywhere. About halfway through, though, the duo meanders a bit, as if overwhelmed by the power of what just transpired.

Even here, however, they make far more out of searching for a path onward than most would manage. It takes several minutes for them to regain footing, but when they do, they achieve a relatively even keel that's quite satisfying and offers a far different "point of view" than expressed earlier on. It's a rough ride, but Live at the LU ends up being a revealing and rewarding example of two somewhat disparate improvisers meeting head on, not giving an inch and struggling toward some amazing music. (All-Music Guide, Brian Olewnick)

Cat. number: erstwhile 043
Year: 2004
Recorded at Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, France on May 10, 2002. Live At The LU is a continuous performance: track separations are solely for the convenience of the listener.