Uncovered Correspondence: a Postcard from Jasło
Some would argue that comfort is the last thing improvised music should give the listener; Eddie Prévost and John Tilbury would most probably concur. However, Uncovered Correspondence: a Postcard from Jasło is bafflingly comforting; not because it is bucolic, even though the ratio of cool calm passages to robust clangor is higher than usual on AMM’s recordings, but because the percussionist and the pianist have such a dependably refined and complementary rapport. This stands out more than usual because this concert recording is AMM’s first album since 2006’s that mysterious forest below London Bridge (Matchless) to feature Prévost and Tilbury as a duo. This rapport certainly didn’t evaporate on 08’s Trinity and 09’s Sounding Music (also on Matchless) that included adjuncts like John Butcher Christian Wolff and Ute Kanngiesser, but was instead absorbed in the larger ensembles. Isolated, Prévost and Tilbury’s emphasis on tone color and decay does not simply base-coat the music – it is the music in the main. Much the same was repeatedly said of AMM during Keith Rowe’s long tenure, but there seems to be something approaching a fundamental shift in AMM’s agenda since the noise-privileging guitarist’s departure – a new regard for beauty, though not in an ordinary sense of the word. Each of the three “Paragraphs” (the presumably Cardew-inspired designation of structure folds neatly into the correspondence theme) has exquisite moments where the chiming quality of Tilbury’s spare keyboarding dovetails with the more spectral timbres produced in the piano’s interior (he is always impressively nimble at producing roughly antiphonal exchanges with himself) or the metallic sheen of Prévost’s bowed cymbals. Not all of these passages simply hover in the stillness of the hushed concert hall; the album ends with a surprising and affecting outpouring before slipping into silence. While there is nothing dilutive or simplified about Uncovered Correspondence: a Postcard from Jasło, it is the most inviting album AMM has ever made.
Bill Shoemaker — Point of Departure Issue 33 February 2011