David Stackenäs & Klaus Ellerhusen Holm

Dayton’s Bluff
Particular Recordings P20

Anders Lindsjö & Martin Küchen

The Stork & The Chimp

Konvoj Records KOR 012

Musical bravery can sometimes be characterized by the action of a player who brings only an acoustic guitarist to a set of duo improvisations when his opposite number is a perceptive player with a couple of reed instruments in hand. That’s exactly the situation that exists on these discs. But each is defined as an alliance rather than a reed showcase with auxiliary string accompaniment.

Not surprisingly all the players have extensive experience both in this formation and in larger aggregations. The Stork & The Chimp would appear to personify two Swedes, guitarist Anders Lindsjö who has played with the likes of Fred Lonberg-Holm and Mats Gustafsson and Martin Küchen, who here plays soprano and sopranino saxophones and who has recorded with a collection of free improvisers including Johan Berthling and Roger Turner, A younger duo, Swedish guitarist David Stackenäs has been part of groups like Labfield and the Fire! Orchestra, while Klaus Ellerhusen Holm is a Norwegian alto saxophonist and clarinetist, who plays in Honest John and Ballrogg among others.

Stackenäs’ playing on Dayton’s Bluff’s seven tracks contains an ambiguous folksy tinge, which means that he’s most often concerned with unforced strumming or bonding finger picking, leaving the atonal exaggerations to Holm. At the same time while calmly stroking consistent and distanced timbres as he does on “Point Pleasant”, leaving the saxophonist free to explore intensity vibratos with a steadily narrower tone, Stackenäs later frames Holm’s hard puffs in a circular loop of echoing notes. At other times, as on “Phalen Creek” it seems as if the two change roles, as straight line trills from Holm evolve to air blows, while Stackenäs’ workman-like frails upsurge to distinctively metallic pumps and clanks. Elsewhere his fluid string exposition evolves to create near-bottleneck wails adding warmth to the saxophonist clinically pulling whistles from within his horn’s body tube. But the most profound confirmation of the duo’s compatibility occurs on “Rust Belt”, where in spite of quavering reed atonality and string-stretching rubs and smacks it’s almost impossible to absolutely attribute certain textures to either instrument.

No such difficulty exists on the other disc where the improvisations are altogether more ferocious than those practiced by Stackenäs and Holm. Veterans used to challenging galvanized Free Jazz players, tough tandem counterpoint is audible as early as “Is it”, the first track, with Lindsjö’s energized strumming and Küchen’s wide yowls and slim growls propelled with near-yakkity-sax torque. As the session proceeds tongue-slapping and duck-like quacks from Küchen’s horns become common currency alongside fluid slurred fingering that propels forward guitar microtones. At the same time as practiced improvisers the two are also able to project an overtone of resolute calmness on “It Is Our” as Küchen’s reed bites slim to microtones while Lindsjö’s equally brief twangs add rhythmic backing from miniscule strokes. The concluding “How Is It” is the duo’s most expansive narrative. As the saxophonist adds searing resonations from a snare drum as background continuum, while he uses both his saxophones to repeat the same split tone brays simultaneously. Meantime the guitarist’s discordant finger picking heighten in concordance with reed story telling. Before auxiliary strums signal the finale, Küchen blows so many variations and deviation from the theme that he appears to be struggling to pull every last breath from his horn.

Both discs are prime instances of two duos able to inject enough color and invention into their sounds so that singular instrument’s limitations are compellingly overcome.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Dayton: 1. Swede Hollow 2. Rust Belt 3. Thru-Hiker 4. Phalen Creek 5. Dayton’s Bluff 6. Point Pleasant 7. Always Sometimes

Personnel: Dayton: Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (alto saxophone and, Bb clarinet) and David Stackenäs (acoustic guitar and preparations)

Track Listing: Stork: 1. Is it? 2. Art Thou 3. Why? 4. Tat Twam Asi 5. It Is Our 5. How Is It?

Personnel: Stork: Martin Küchen (soprano and sopranino saxophones and snare drum) and Anders Lindsjö (semi-acoustic and acoustic guitar)