PETER VAN HUFFEL / ALEX MAKSYMIW – Kronix

Fresh Sound New Talent

A duet for saxophone and guitar can truly become a problem. Countless are the perils deriving from the vainglorious outpourings of average performers, which in the case of these specific instruments are usually summarized by the world-famous exclamation “too many notes”. If the protagonist’s genealogy lies somewhere between math rock and modern jazz, the threat of Boredom with the capital B turns into tangible annoyance more often than not.

Van Huffel and Maksymiw steered clear of these issues with ease. For starters, they mostly play upon compositions, including some that were originally conceived for a larger instrumental setup. This element alone warrants a layer of lucidity to begin with. Then again, the duo wisely chose to diversify their music’s ecosystem from a track to another – sometimes even within a single piece – thus preventing the listener from descending into the classic “same stuff, slightly modified” mental groove. They astutely amalgamate timbral components and effects, combining dry tones and echoing resonances. Ultimately, the repertoire is alluring enough to sustain the duration of a whole set.

A favorite of mine is “The Dreamer”, where Van Huffel picks useful pitches from the ground of intelligible tunefulness to scatter them across a canvas of magnetizing chords and divergent clusters plucked by Maksymiw. In other places, such as the initial “The Charmer” or “Petrichor”, the pair run all over less accessible paths replete with odd-metered twists and Fripp-ish (read: clean-toned and angular) arpeggios. “Happenstance” is a moderately mysterious episode, small doses of dissonance spicing an otherwise rather calm environment. Any way you look at it, Kronix is an album that keeps good company, definitely sober yet rich of lively spurts.

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