The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers
DeJohnette and Frisell approached this rare duo gig at the 2001 edition of Seattle’s Earshot Festival with few expectations and no roadmaps. And the results are often magical. The title track is a perfect example of how this collaboration works. With DeJohnette alternating between subdued backbeats and furious polyrhythmic torrents on the kit, Frisell adds layer upon layer of melodic fragments, rhythmic devices and tortured, distortion-laced skronking and microtonal shrapnel to the mix with his hands-on looping device. In the span of nearly 12 minutes they create a symphony of controlled cacophony in the moment that resonates with drama, groove and lyricism while covering a range of emotions.
“Cat and Mouse” is a playful encounter with Frisell on six-string banjo and DeJohnette on hand percussion. On the Asian-flavored “The Garden of Chew-Man-Chew,” Frisell affects a samisen sound on his banjo and DeJohnette plays what sounds like a gamelan. With the drummer back on the kit and the guitarist kicking the distortion pedal on “Otherwordly Dervishes,” this potent twosome (augmented by Ben Surman’s subharmonic bass tones and electronica-style production values) summons up a kind of throbbing intensity that Frisell hasn’t been associated with since his Power Tools and Naked City days.
Other highlights include the joyous, rhythmically charged “Ode to South Africa” and an affecting rendition of John Coltrane’s gentle ballad “After the Rain,” with DeJohnette playing some cascading piano and Frisell manning the ambient loops.