May 2003

Jason Bivins/Ian Davis
Family Vineyard

On Benthic (Family Vineyard), guitarist Jason Bivins and drummer Ian Davis spill their guts into nine freeform improvisations lasting almost an hour. It's a thick, chewy listen that demands a fair bit but doesn't offer much in return. The serially eclectic guitarist in particular throws just about everything into his episodic and occasionally rock-influenced improvisations, including, though not at all limited to echo effects, slide guitar over the pick-ups for UFO sounds, slurs, scratching and a bit of drone via the violin bow. Bivins might need a partner with a more forceful personality than the supportive-to-a-fault Davis, who dutifully fills in the space behind the extroverted Bivins' occasionally Sharrocklike skronk. As it stands, the guitarist sounds as if he's losing and then rediscovering interest in his instrument several times a minute.

Originally published in May 2003
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