(Incunabulum)

Can a Baroque Lute be played with a bottleneck? Yes, if your name is Jozef Van Wissem. This reflective duet, the second recorded with Tetuzi Akiyama (himself armed with the same device, yet exercised on a Martin HD-28 acoustic guitar) was not realized in a single session. In fact, in this occasion the Dutch lutenist captured his comrade’s improvisations at home, then proceeded to “follow” him while replaying the results through a computer program called Garageband. That way, Van Wissem could “see the notes coming” and take improvisational decisions working for the best. Those choices mostly include many segments of silence amidst dots, spots and nicely dissonant chords, the instruments’ natural resonance clearly audible until complete decay. “No effects applied whatsoever”, it says on the cover, and it shows: the music sounds elegantly nude, and even the few fretting uncertainties perceived here and there contribute to a mystique of the purity that is all the more welcome in the era of hyper-processing. A refreshing set, one that defines the appreciation of hearing wood and strings in an atypical Zen context deriving from the interaction between two humans and a laptop. Take my description with a grain of salt anyway: to date, nobody has understood what Zen means despite billions of words and tons of books. What I do know is that listening to this record is a gratifying experience, already repeated several times by yours truly.

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