duo blade & muthspiel
Ask any Vortex regular to identify his or her favourite gig at the club, and the chances are that many will cite an evening at the old Vortex when guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel joined forces with Marc Johnson and Brian Blade to produce two sets of sublime music. Since then Muthspiel has revisited the club with the Pichler twins and re-created the magic; on this album he and drummer Brian Blade interweave, strike sparks off each other and generally behave in accordance with the CD's title. Muthspiel is capable of producing both filigree delicacy (particularly on the acoustic instrument) and viscerally affecting rock-based energy, and in Blade he has the perfect partner, always probing, shuffling, embellishing, but somehow never relaxing the tension his taut alertness builds into these eleven duo pieces.
They range from the infectiously rolling opener 'Gnadenwald' (which employs loops to layer its attractive, slow-building sound), through spontaneous improvisations where the duo's communication is almost telepathic, to more pre-structured material employing riffs and themes on which Muthspiel takes off, building solos of gripping intensity over Blade's surging, rolling drums. Ending with a haunting piece, 'The Tuning of the Bells', which Muthspiel himself accurately describes as an 'exploration in sound', this album is at once virtuosic and musicianly and compulsively playable an early strong front runner in the album of the year stakes.