Binary Canary—a left-of-center Chicago-based duo made up of Ted Moore and Kyle Hutchins on electronics and saxophone, respectively—work on the fringes of free jazz and new-music with the surgical precision of mad scientists. Moore has been credited as both “laptopist” and “electronicist” while Hutchins provides “feedback saxophone” and “feedback cymbal,” among other contraptions, so these far-out experimentalists have the technical jargon down to go with their musical methodology.
On their third album, Iterative Systems, these kindred spirits find the perfect balance of splattered skronk and meditative drone. Moore and Hutchins may be full-fledged improvisers but the swathes of rapid-fire sounds and the tranquil layers of textures and tones are placed with an astounding attention to detail. Their sonic palette is vast. Iterative Systems could be filed under the ambient, electronic, free-improv, chamber and noise music umbrellas. This all-encompassing twosome cover all the bases in their heady deconstruction of sound.
Challenging conventions seems to be Moore and Hutchins’s forte and Iterative Systems manifests that aesthetic. Off the bat, they seem to be transmitting alien soundscapes from some distant otherworld. The one minute-and-change “I” immediately confounds the senses and pierces eardrums with its nails-on-chalkboard saxophone squawks and blipping and bleeping electronics. A ghostly 15-minute drone-fest commences on the following “Hollow” as Hutchins’ sculpts a tapestry that runs the gamut from cathartic waves to guttural sheets of noise, a backdrop for Moore to let loose with bracing improvisational salvos from what could be a saxophone or a laptop. The epic “Metal” follows a similar feedback-drenched blueprint while “Alloy” is a nightmarish dreamscape. Their instruments melt into one another—deciphering which sounds are coming from where makes Iterative Systems enigmatic and well worth probing.
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