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November 2006

Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid
The Exchange Session, Vol. 2
Domino

When Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid went into the studio to jam, it seemed like a mismatch. Hebden usually records under the name Four Tet, creating percussion-driven electronica based on samples, analog electronics and plenty of postproduction. While he’s a talented rock guitarist, he probably couldn’t cut it in a jazz jam session. Meanwhile, Reid is a jazz and funk drummer whose credits include everyone from Miles Davis to James Brown.

But the first volume of The Exchange Session was an artistic success, with the two synching up and grooving in the spirit of 1970s loft-jazz/funk to create large-scale jams that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sun Ra record. This second volume isn’t so successful. It features three tracks that run 20, 17 and 16 minutes each, and there are very few minutes where the two sound like they’re playing off each other—most of the CD sounds like free-form bashing. Reid is able to play off his vast rhythmic knowledge in an attempt to keep things moving, but Hebden slips into the noisy knob-twiddler role all too often.

Even so, these two are kindred spirits, and there’s no denying they achieved some great moments during their three-day recording session. Unfortunately, they all ended up on Volume One.

Originally published in November 2006
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