Steve Barsotti & Eric Leonardson – Rarebit (Transparency/Mimeomeme)


Working with instruments they invented themselves, Steve Barsotti and Eric Leonardson pursue the very fringes of what music can be. This collaboration consists mostly of unaltered, improvisational duets using these one-of-a-kind instruments, although Rarebit is bookended by two multi-track compositions resulting from several recorded improvisations. Despite having fairly mundane and utilitarian names, Barsotti’s “roto rod” and “spring frame” and Eric Leonardson’s “springboard” are more intricate and resonant than they sound. There are strings, wires, frames, and other jutting shapes and surfaces to explore, all lending to a final sound full of random and naturally twanging reverberations.

Essentially, they’re creating disorienting, impossible-sounding effects using natural elements. The culmination of a four-year project, Rarebit could easily pass as some found-sound experiment. There are perceived giggles and squeals throughout, recalling disturbed, nervous laughter on the opening “Near And Distant Relations”, which also has a bass-y undercurrent. Much of this is distinctly ominous, from the growling grind starting “Measuring Widths” to the peripheral fidgeting of “To Bone A Bird”. Most notably, “Yucca-Ranger On Frontiersman Frame” manages to create what resembles a wolf howling in the distance.

Other songs seem to briefly disappear altogether or submerge underwater, and while the album can feel a bit same-y unless you’re paying close attention, there’s no shortage of cryptic details over which to scratch your head.

Doug Wallen


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