FRED LONBERG-HOLM / NICK STEPHENS – Crackle

Loose Torque

Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Nick Stephens: double bass

Nick Stephens’ Loose Torque throws intermittent uppercuts towards the putrefaction of instrumental awareness, adding little pearls to a consistent catalog of relatively obscure items. The word titling this album might be correlated – conveniently but somewhat erroneously – to noises emblematic of the wooden boxes stressed and rubbed by the protagonists, who recorded these six tracks in 2011. More than that, the collection features a whole array of intuitive coups comprising agile chatter, investigative feverishness and inspection of hardly stable tones. As evidenced by repeated microtonal misbehaviors, there’s no love lost between the musicians and Madame Consonance. Still, the duo manages to attribute musicalness to the smallest particle; even the fingers’ grime left on the strings appears to have a say. Fearless glissando lines by Lonberg-Holm get countered by Stephens’ big-chested plucking in “Crackle Two”; hints to some sort of anarchist morality – with glorious pseudo-melodic wails for good measure – are located in “Crackle Four”. Tricks and licks, you already had figured that out, were excommunicated by this church. Both men regarded as extraordinary technical specimens, they rummage, discard and link pitches, upper partials and mechanical attritions within a wide gamut of schismatic impressions and visceral responses. This results in utterly compelling stuff, heterogeneous nomenclatures expressing intelligence and vitality – with or without an arco.

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