Saturday, October 1, 2011

Levin & Daisy: The Flower & The Bear

Daniel Levin (cello)
Tim Daisy (percussion)
The Flower And The Bear (Relay Records; 2011)

Finishing off my unexpected week of duo recordings, I thought I would mention a fantastic album I just picked up a few weeks ago from Daniel Levin and Tim Daisy entitled The Flower And The Bear.

Levin has worked in a number of settings (trio, quartet, duo and ensemble), Daisy has done the same (most notably with, Klang, The Engines, The Vandermark 5 and his own Vox Arcana). They are highly creative forces on their own. Together, they have crafted an amazing duet record that is fun, raucous and inventive. 

The Flower And The Bear I have to assume relates to the two musicians themselves. Either way this is an album that shine with life and activity. Built on only five extended pieces, both musicians bristle with excitement. "Graystone" slowly builds on Levin's structured yet somehow improvised movements. These are matched with free flowing rhythm's from Daisy, until the two get midway into the piece and the wheels come flying off in beautiful rolling cacophony. 

"The Flower And The Bear" feels like a hunt for Chanukah gelt that turns out to be a creepy message from the under-world (that's the best way I could describe it). But really, its an adventure in improvisation. Percussion and cello are the perfect compliment in this setting because you can create a variety of sounds that are both rich, pure and beautiful. Daisy and Levin manage to do that with ease. "The Flower And The Bear" ventures into a scattered and diverse structures towards the end but somehow manages to keep the listener well focused. Levin and Daisy become one sound as the movement heads towards a calm conclusion.

"Steel Flags" may be the only track with a real structure, which is laid out in the beginning by Levin. At times Levin almost turns his instrument into a percussion piece. The unity that the two musicians display throughout this piece is spellbinding. It's intense but quietly affective. There are striking layers of tense beauty as well as repetitive patterns that construct the overall theme of the piece. It's engaging without being disarming. Wonderful stuff.

With The Flower And The Bear, both Daniel Levin and Tim Daisy effectively show they are at the top of a very small list of creative musicians within the free-improvisational structure of musicians. Highly Recommended.

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