It Takes Two Edition: Linkwood & Foat, Millions Lands, Sean Watkins & Matt Chamberlain, Holden & Zimpel And Obradovic-Tixier Duo
Linkwood & Foat: Linkwood & Foat
For many of you, this has been a time of isolation, which is no fun. In the spirit of getting together and the exchange of ideas, here are some new albums featuring the collaborative music of a range of different duos, most pairs coming together just for these releases. First up is this wonderful twosome, keyboardist Greg Foat and electronic musician Linkwood. The music clearly makes the case that these two should be playing together, pulsing rhythms, blissful melodies, totally organic interplay. Some magic in there, go find it.
Millions Lands: The Ochre World
Millions Lands is the duo of drummer Kid Millions, known primarily for his work with avant-awesome band Oneida and Benjamin Lanz who, on their first release together, The Ochre World, plays just about everything else. This includes guitar, bass, trombone and electronics. Their music, recorded in Lanz’s basement, sounds like the kind of music that was, well, recorded by two old friends in a basement. Weird and experimental, but also engaging and (somewhat surprisingly) accessible. The music is tidal, rolling out and in, finding points of high energy and low. Millions, who often plays with inhuman energy, is wonderfully restrained here, which makes the drums pop even more. Good stuff.
Sean Watkins and Matt Chamberlain: Sean Watkins and Matt Chamberlain
It’s rather remarkable, but bluegrass guitarist/vocalist Sean Watkins has put out three very different albums in the first third of 2020. They’re all great, but this unlikely pairing with drummer Matt Chamberlain is, in my opinion, the most thrilling. I’ve turned a few people onto this one and everyone who’s heard it has been surprised at the way Watkins and Chamberlain mesh together, their distinct styles not really overlapping or giving in to each other, but rather synthesizing something completely new. Rhythmically fascinating and melodically explorative, this is a must-hear. Trust me. I didn’t even mention the bevy of grade-A vocal guests who don’t so much sing as get absorbed into this altogether absorbing sound. Check it out, I think you’ll dig.
Holden & Zimpel: Long Weekend
Synth/electronic musician James Holden and clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel have been two of my favorite musical discoveries over the past five or so years, so it was rather thrilling to see this collaborative EP come out earlier this year. And I have to say, it was completely disappointing. Disappointing, that is, because it’s only four tracks long. Titled “Saturday,” “Sunday,” “Tuesday” and “Wednesday,” I only wish they’d just gone for the whole week. The music is a wonderful, jubilant meeting-of-the-minds, perfect for zoning out with a smile on your face or digging through the layers of overlapping motifs. Let’s hope there’s more where this came from someday soon, 30 of my favorite minutes of music this year.
Obradovic-Tixier Duo: The Boiling Stories of a Smoking Kettle
We’ll wrap this quintet of duos up with one more ya-gotta-hear-this. This pair is called the Obradovic-Tixier Duo, consisting of Croatian drummer Lada Obradović and David Tixier, a French pianist. On paper, you’d call this jazz, I suppose, a duo that has the feel of the White Stripes but has more in common with trios like the Bad Plus or GoGo Penguin … with maybe a touch of old school Benevento/Russo thrown in for good measure, plus their own fun little surprises. Their compositions are playful and easy to love, the drums and the keys on equal footing, cat chasing mouse improbably chasing cat. Unlike the other twofers in this week’s batch, these guys are a “real” band, and this is but their (very impressive) debut, here’s to another from them soon. Or maybe two? Enjoy ‘em all, let me know what you think, back with more this week. Safe tidings for you and yours and, always, great new music to keep us going.