I find one off improvised meetings fascinating. Whilst Australian composer Anthony Pateras and US guitarist Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))) were hardly strangers when they stepped on stage together at Instants Chavirés in 2011, they had never recorded together (I’m not sure if they had ever played together previously). When two people step out on stage there is so much to work through, so much back-story, where everything from ego to routine, gets thrown into the mix. Often it can end up in too many notes, an arm wrestle for musical ascendancy, or self contained musical circus acts designed to consolidate their reputations. After all when you feel vulnerable what do most people do? Over compensate.
This doesn’t feel like that. In fact it feels like the opposite, it’s remarkably attuned, almost introspective. Though perhaps we don’t really know. In the best Teo Macero tradition Pateras has got his hands on the material and reedited the live performance.
So what we’re left with is a fascinating low frequency workout. Pateras is on a Farfisa Compact duo and piano, and O’ Malley is on electric guitar. Yet this is perhaps the dub of the performance, as King Tubby Pateras is also on the tape machine and egregore (look it up). O’Malley rarely gets a riff in, we’re dealing with drawn out drones and textures, the odd subtle explosion over Pateras’ driving elongated basslines or musique concrete electronics. Electrics purr, single deep piano notes reverberate Sunn O))) style and there is plenty of space for decay. The pace is so languid, that you can’t ever imagine that these two ever felt the need to fill it up.
This album is so different from Pateras’ other (admittedly quite varied) Immediata releases, though it does retain the excellent liner notes with Pateras interviewing O’Malley. Typically it’s highly educative with O’Malley acknowledging the influence of the Melvins on Sunn O))), as well as name dropping Alan Lamb, discussing ritualism in music and playing in Scott Walker’s orchestra.