PASCAL MARZAN & JOHN RUSSELL – Translations

Emanem

Pascal Marzan: nylon-string guitar; John Russell: steel-string guitar

It is not difficult for your commentator – whose brief parentheses of peace of mind are born from intimate soliloquies on his oddly-strung babies – to feel a part of the blessed furniture surrounding these five duets. The artists’ friendly closeness is tangible; the jovial mood perceived in between certain “tranceful diversions” is also conspicuous. The most interesting feature of this collaboration reveals differing skills and backgrounds commingling into a concerted stream of energy, the ears not requiring to know who plays what (at any rate, the mix keeps the two instruments separated).

Then we have the “acoustic vital principle” factor to report about. The conversations are carried on by alternating sequences of frenetic surges encompassing regular pitches and sheer noise – still within the borders of mental sanity – and more contemplative cascades (and/or mild-mannered abrasions) characterized by twinkling harmonics and plucked/picked notes and chords outside the canons of anticipation. If one listens in “all-channels-open” mode, there’s no way to miss the combination of fervor defining the speediest sections and the relative quietude typifying episodes where harps, and not guitars, seem to be the source for what we hear.

On top of everything, what emerges from these tracks is respect: for the act of making valuable music together – not an easy accomplishment, not even for expert practitioners – and, especially, for the type of sinless disruption of norms that is often completely absent from this sort of duet, and instead constitutes the very core of Translations. Contrarily to a sizeable chunk of improvisational settings captured on record, there is not aversion towards returning to this CD immediately, such is the sense of enlightened weightlessness that the sounds convey in spite of the apparent difficulties.

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