Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tim Berne & Bill Frisell - 1984 - Theoretically

Tim Berne & Bill Frisell 

01. M. 6:04
02. Inside The Brain 8:30
03. Preview 4:06
04. Carolina 3:32
05. 2011 16:17
06. Perky Figure 2:42

Recorded and Mixed: August/September 1983 (High Rise Sound) and August 1984 (First Choice Studio).

Guitar [Electric], Acoustic Guitar – Bill Frisell
Saxophone [Alto] – Tim Berne

It doesn't take long for Tim Berne to assert his presence on Theoretically, his outstanding 1986 collaboration with Bill Frisell. Over the guitarist's carefully orchestrated acoustic parts, the alto player shrieks and soars like, well, Tim Berne. The overall feel of this record puts it almost into ambient territory, as Frisell's volume swells and Berne's upper register squeals blend into a single fabric of weighty yet spacious sound. It is a place where melody emerges almost as a surprise from a strangely menacing backdrop of pure atmosphere. There are moments where the music becomes quite intense, where the layer upon layer of guitar and saxophone create an extremely unsettling feeling in the mind of the listener, but also moments of relative peace, although never without something disturbing lurking around the edges. There are also moments that appear more traditional, in which the Monkish quality of Frisell's music comes to the forefront, as on the charming head to "Preview." It all works, no doubt about it, but there is room to question the quality of the source material. Overall, this is a good, if not particularly great, album from two musicians at the top of their game.

This recording came early in the careers of both Berne and Frisell. The emergent qualities of both their work can be seen here ... the space that is a keystone of Frisell's work, and the knottiness for which Berne is sine qua non. Other reviews will say that this isn't the best work of either -- a high bar! -- but the disc is an intensely intriguing and beautiful piece of work in which the two young masters shine a fantastic light on each other. 



  2. Thanks for the assortment of early Frisell. Great to hear him in these different contexts.