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FRED FRITH & NÙRIA ANDORRÀ || HAN BENNINK + TERRIE EX

«Dancing Like Dust»
KLANGGALERIE, gg429m
«Instants»
TERP IMPROV SERIES, IS-36

Two duos of exceptional and highly imaginative free improvisers.

Fred Frith is a pioneer of extended guitar techniques, known for his roles in such legendary art rock bands like Henry Cow, Art Bears, Skeleton Crew and Massacre as well as a unique composer for large ensembles, films and dance. Catalan percussionist-composer Núria Andorrà comes from classical and contemporary music background but has been also a frequent collaborator of master pianist Agustí Fernández, and has performed with other innovative improvisers like Joëlle Léandre, Mats Gustafsson, Nate Wooley and Joe Morris. Dancing Like Dust was recorded at at Can Balmes in Santa Maria de Palautordera in October 2021, during a daytime session and an evening concert.

Dancing Like Dust documents eleven nuanced and intimate duets between two interdisciplinary who enjoy shaping and sculpting sounds in the most unlikely, fascinating and engaging ways possible, trusting their fast instincts. Andorrà focuses on a gran casa with cymbals while Frith attaches objects to the guitar strings, and quite often it is impossible to tell who is doing what. Frith and Andorrà know how to weave compact and playful textures that have their own, totally unpredictable and mysterious inner logic, or as one of the duets is titled «El Sueño De La Razon» («The Dream of Reason»), and are fully immersed in their secret gardens of seductive sounds. There is simply no end to their sonic imagination and invention, and these duets can shift instantly from minimalist and dreamy soundscapes to restless and free-associative and even confrontational, chaotic and noisy chats. All make sense, and more and more in repeated listening. It is clear that these like-minded sonic sorcerers had tons of fun while recording this album. This great album ends with the brief and peaceful «Return to Tomorrow». I hope that tomorrow will bring more of this inspiring duo.

Instants is already the third duo album of Dutch old friends – drummer Han Bennink, who is 80 years old, and guitarist Terrie Ex (aka Terrie Hessels), who is 67 years old, and founder of the legendary band The Ex. Both Bennink and Ex are Zaankanters, and coming from the same region may explain their uncanny affinity and exceptional chemistry. They recorded their first album, The Laughing Owl, in 2000 and followed it with Zeng! Seven years later and expanded their duo with Candian sax player Brodie West in Let’s Go in 2008 (all were released by Ex’ label Terp), but collaborated before and later in many other formats. Instants was recorded live at Les Instants Chavirés in Montreuil near Paris in September 2022, and true to Terp’s DIY philosophy was mixed by Ex’ daughter Lena Hessels, mastered by Th Ex’ vocalist-guitarist Arnold de Boer with cover artwork by Bennink.

The title of the album reference The Ex’ album from 1995, Instant, where Bennink guested, and, obviously, to the legendary Instant Composers Pool that Bennink co-founded in 1967. Bennink and Ex know each other’s bag of tricks but their playful, punkish-dadaist dynamics are still fresh and effective, inventive and full of sonic surprises. Ex is tied to his old, irreparable Guild guitar while Bennink plays an old drum kit, and their interplay deconstructs and reconstructs in instant loose but surprisingly swinging patterns. Bennink and Ex are perfectly tuned to each other and armed with impeccable instincts, and focus on spontaneous and ecstatic action and reaction, messing with expectations and conventions, always with some mischief and a grin. Their duets are often spiced with some funny effects and with clever and brief quotes of Dixelabd, be-bop and Ethiopian music. Borrowing the title of Bennink’s duo with a dear, old friend, the late Peter Brötzmann (who performed with this duo), there are many good reasons why these magical Zaankanters are still quite popular after all these years.

Eyal Hareuveni

Fred Frith (electric guitar), Núria Andorrà (percussion) || Han Bennink (drums), Terrie Ex (electric guitar)

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