One can’t expect amazing journeys and groundbreaking statements from every improvisational recording. But we definitely enjoy the work of musicians approaching the act of playing instinctively minus the pseudo-intellectual frills. Pianist Eli Wallace and saxophonist Ben Cohen (here on alto and tenor) did exactly that in the three pieces of Evaporation, their method including preparations and, in general, the use of extended techniques.
The duo shifts across colors and dynamics without straining the creative muscle, reacting to the fruits of the interaction with a considerable degree of unpretentious cleverness. The initial “Saturation” – the longest episode at over 33 minutes – offers the widest perspective in terms of intuitive reciprocity. Moments of tension – bizarre partials and rumbling strings seemingly on the verge of explosive transmutation – may emerge from phases of quieter turbulence, often defined by a restless percussiveness. A “dirty” minimalism of sorts, occasionally inducing genuine entrancement.
After a brief interlude of pianistic rarefaction (“Respite”), the title track shows rather reticent exploratory traits. Stark fragments, undistinguishable pitches, rhythms reduced to smithereens, noisy undercurrents. We picture Wallace and Cohen in a context of emotional containment, privileging a quasi-scientific real-time analysis of the acoustic data. In the meantime we’re escorted by peculiarly transparent sonorities, dissonant yet intelligible, never annoyingly invasive.