Eli Keszler / Keith Fullerton Whitman

(NNA Tapes)

 Experimental percussion master Eli Keszler teams with Keith Fullerton Whitman, wielding what sounds like a mammoth Modular Synth setup, for a split LP on NNA. At first this may seem like an odd pairing, but both musicians draw from the same musical language, albeit at different angles. The general focus is on flurries of staccato chaos — or controlled chaos — a swarm of synth, drum, and “Micro-Controller Metal Plates” that is balanced by the calm, understated eeriness of Keszler’s “Cymbal, Bass Drum, Clarinet” track. Whitman’s side is more relentless; a 17-minute freak out that, through its sheer dexterity, recalls minimal shredders like Orthrelm or cosmic free-jazz. Really, it’s just a fine display of the synthesizer’s capabilities when pushed to the edge by a savvy handler. The standout for me, though, is the brief “Drums, Crotales, Installed Motors, Micro-Controller Metal Plates,” which unifies a shrill metallic buzzing with precisely orchestrated drum clatter. That may sound like a contradiction, but the piece is deceptive like that. It drifts between the aforementioned staccato chaos and finely layered rhythms; just when you think it might lose control, Keszler dramatically pauses or plays a familiar rhythmic pattern, making clear the tension between composition and improvisation that pervades most of this record. – Keith Rankin, Experimedia

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