James Blackshaw & Lubomyr Melnyk
This is a document of two artists speaking to one another through strings plucked and hammered simultaneously. Blackshaw, long a favorite around here, met Lubomyr Melnyk at a festival in 2008 and the two shared admiration of each others's work and made tentative plans to work together sometime in the future. That promise has finally come to fruition and the results are unflinchingly moving. It seems that James counts Melnyk as something of an influence and with his complex, polyrhytmic textures being something of a trademark; it’s easy to see what lessons he's taken away from the elder composer. The two perfectionists sat down to create something spontaneous by recording a set of improvisations, no more than two takes per recording, and both artists in their raw forms have plenty to say to each other over the course of The Watchers. Melnyk's speed, long documented, is underpinned only by his ability to channel virtuosity into emotion, tension and delicate shading - even in a piece that's so unrehearsed. Blackshaw proves a perfect foil for his style, tipping cascades of his own emotionally charged stringwork down between the eddies of Melnyk's furious notes. The two craft something akin to a sound painting, a final piece that would take multiple encounters to pick apart the brushwork, or rather the stringwork, here and the craft that goes into sounding this effortlessly intricate speaks volumes for both artists.
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