Doran/Studer/Wittwer: Red Twist & Tuned Arrow (ECM 1342)

Red Twist & Tuned Arrow

Christy Doran electric and acoustic guitars
Fredy Studer drums, percussion
Stephan Wittwer electric guitar, synthesizer, sequencer programming
Recorded November 1986 at Soundville Recording Studios, Luzern
Engineer: Rene J. Zingg
Produced by RT&TA and Manfred Eicher

Guitarist Christy Doran, who nowadays divides his time between teaching in Switzerland and recording, is another in a line of unique guitarists on the ECM roster. For those new to this intriguing musician as I am, this seems as good a place as any to start, though one may also encounter swatches of his art flapping in the wind of the OM collective. For the Red Twist & Tuned Arrow project, he joins improviser extraordinaire Stephan Wittwer and OM founder Fredy Studer on drums and percussion. The product of this chemical reaction is a record of great ingenuity that has worn well. What first impresses about Doran and Wittwer is their delicacy. We find out right away in the Derek Bailey-esque vibes of “Canon Cannon” that both musicians are far less interested in powering their way through material than they are in uncorking a fine vintage of fermented logic. Moving from the synth ground lines here to the perpetuity of “1374,” again we are awash in the microscopy, which is only enhanced by Studer’s evocative colors. Like something out of a sci-fi film, it pulses with alien energy. On that note, “Quasar” might as well be called “Quaver,” for that it does in abundance, moving through a gallery of playing that is nocturnal yet blinding. Doran does much to admire here in the date’s crowning achievement, which is not without its more forthright moments in the oh-so-satisfying grunge of “Belluard.” Along with “D.T.E.T.,” “Backtalk” casts a jazzier, if more abstract, reflection onto the mix. The trio ends smashingly with “Messing,” a quintessential track for Doran, who takes his signature seizures to their greatest height yet. An acoustic breaks from its cage and runs rampant with its freedom cries, leaving the piece’s latter half to fend for itself electronically. Awesome.

Doran grists a pliable sound that never stays in one place or genre for very long. His quick costume changes ensure that we remain on our toes. Perhaps an acquired taste for some, but satisfying and ultimately joyful, with nary a pessimistic puddle to step in.

<< Thomas Tallis: The Lamentations Of Jeremiah (ECM 1341 NS)
>> Enrico Rava/Dino Saluzzi Quintet: Volver (ECM 1343)

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