A thing that I measure in performers facing a restricted gathering is their capableness of leaving their mental self out of the equation. As an improviser, the immersion in the depths of your own sonic flux can be extremely difficult if a tiny fraction of the mind starts worrying about the risk of some stupid fortuity disrupting the vibrational dissemination. A mere instant is enough; just think of the trademark cough amidst the silences across which rarefied pitches resound.
However, Mark Wastell and Julie Tippetts are experienced artists; moreover, this particular audience (that of London’s Cafe Oto) was definitely trained for the ritual. Make no mistake, the half-hour comprised by this recording requires the same intense focus from the home listener. It puts us in touch with the salient traits that separate the act of playing for the sake of it from doing it with the purpose of establishing a connection with a different cognitive state.
Wastell and Tippetts seem to have immediately found a common ground in that sense. Right after the introductory hush – impressively conveying the duo’s attempt to hold a firm grip on their emotional baggage – both musicians begin transmitting miniature paintings of their inner core. Small percussion like pebbles felt under the naked feet as we’re walking alone on a seashore; the imposing, all-encompassing oscillation of Wastell’s tam-tam appearing from nowhere to remind us of the true itinerary; Tippetts’ voice pointing to the very bullseye of its communicative gamut, the place where no ornament or futile “message” is necessary.
The integrity brought forth by these and other elements – they may not be noticed at first, but become more relevant with subsequent listens – represents a wonderful illustration of ego dispersal, an audible manifestation of the unfathomable factors of beingness. Or, paraphrasing the title of one of Julie’s husband’s finest albums, two loose kites in a gentle wind floating with only their will for an anchor. Perhaps not even that will.