Matthew Welch and Craig Colorusso come from slightly divergent, yet complementary, backgrounds as improvising musicians – Welch via formal study under the likes of Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton, Colorusso via guitar ambience/noise bands such as China Pig, Olive Grain and Diving Bell. Welsh is on alto saxophone with Colorusso on guitar and their playing meshes beautifully on these two extended improvisations.
Both tracks use simple, unhurried, single chord guitar figures as a bed on which to lay languid, spacious melodies. In the first Colorusso concentrates on a single note – not really a drone as it stops and starts regularly – which sounds like it is possibly bowed rather than played in any traditional manner. Over this, Welch has his saxophone supplying a remarkable range of sympathetic tones. At times he sounds like he’s playing an oillian pipe, at others even bagpipes as well as more traditional saxophone tones. There’s some subtle processing involved, more to create accompanying harmonic tones rather than change the raw sounds. Each line is entered into carefully, remaining as a single note or perhaps finishing with a brief glissando. If that piece was gentle, the second is even more so. This time, Colorusso’s guitar figure develops into simple, naive riffs built around plucking individual strings of a single chord. The mild distortion has been removed and even the saxophone is limited to sounding just like a traditional alto saxophone. For just over 20 minutes the mood is delicate peacefulness – punctuated here and there with some growling sax overtones before resolving each time back to calm beauty. At times, snatches of Welch’s melodies almost sound like a rendition of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, filtered through a memory of a hazy dream.
This is disarmingly simple music but the sympathy with which the players interact and their ability to maintain an evocative mood for an extended period of time renders the simplicity as monumental.