Sometimes you just have to let things brew. Like making a good pot of tea, you have to give it time for the flavour to develop. Then you can enjoy it.
Greg Kelley and Jason Lescalleet’s relationship is a bit like that. Having released their first collaboration, Forlorn Green, back in 2001, they have given things a bit of time to ripen before having another bite of the cherry with Conversations. While it’s somewhat different to the modus operandi of many in the experimental music world, where one-off partnerships disgorge a mountain of new releases every work, it’s shows admirable restraint and an awareness of the fact that you can’t always rush things. After all, when a relationship works, it’s worth nurturing it.
Conversations was recorded at a several different locations between Spring 2013 and Summer 2014. It’s deep, absorbing stuff, ranging from the low-volume but almost choral hums of opening track Introductions, through to the planes of textured noise making up Intercourse. The duo nurture a simmering electroacoustic melange throughout, synths combining with electronic instruments, turntables, tapes, miscellaneous objects and even a trumpet thrown into the mix.
Consultation is an almost melodic slice of synth drone, a luminous and melancholic whine slowly pulling free of a gritty bed, brief moments of brightness in an eternal darkness. The birth of a star. The death of a sun.
The agonised mammoth howls of La Conversacion, meanwhile, were recorded at the Cha’ak’ab Paaxil festival in Yucatan, Mexico. This is a fantastic gathering of underground noisemakers, free improvisation heads and jazz outsiders organised by Gerardo Alejos and Enrique Rejón that’s been taking place for the past six years. It’s a creditable endeavour to build a local experimental scene outside the usual hubs of Europe, the US and Japan. They’re organising 2014’s festival now, which will take place in October, so keep your eyes peeled.
La Conversacion is a cracking track anyway, one of my favourites despite being on the shorter side and so not quite having the room to really extend like some of the other pieces on the album. Kelley’s trumpet wails are wonderfully abstract and opaque, joining with Lescalleet’s tape and synth murk to unsettling effect, a sound dancing with its own echo, before separating and carving out a series of erratic firecracker-like squiggles.
Conversations shows that, 13 years on, and Kelley and Lescalleet’s collaborative chops have lost none of their power or empathy. Here’s hoping they can squeeze another cup of that flavour-filled tea from that same pot.