The 2007 murder of guitarist Rod Poole makes everything he recorded more precious; good thing he documented some of his shows. Here we get three improvisations with fellow guitarists Nels Cline and Jim McAuley from a live 2003 concert in downtown L.A.
The trio treat their instruments with great delicacy and little respect for what some luthier imagined: They stick things between the strings, pluck and slap in unaccustomed ways. Poole sometimes applies a bow to his ax, which I think is microtonally fretted.
If they won’t let a guitar be a guitar, they also won’t allow their music to be entirely human. I hear the dense fall of dry leaves, a flower opening in fast motion, the textures of raw silk, the abrasion of rusty barbed wire, the resonance of rotted wood, the drone of cicadas, the creaking of a giant iron door. On the human side, there are running feet and lullaby arms. The densities, rhythms and volume vary from moment to moment. The mood is one of calm concentration and mutual respect. The three play as an ensemble, so you usually can’t tell who’s who. All are masters who know exactly what kinds of sounds they can produce. (They are not experimenting.)
Time goes away.