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Joe Morris and Agustí Fernández: Ambrosia

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Characteristic of Riti Records is its minimalism. A recording’s package is more than likely sleek, visually monochromatic, and carries few words. The inference here is that the music is the reason for the package in the first place. And the music is sound, not a material entity.

On Ambrosia, Joe Morris plays guitar and Agustí Fernández, the piano. The two musicians are wedded to a place where very little, if any, resonance is produced, small gesture becomes the focus and progressions and phrasing trump pure melodic content. There are six tracks of varying length. Each is a phase of the total; each has “Ambrosia” as its title.

The motion is constant, both on piano and guitar. The destinations are not predefined. Time is the vehicle for scraping, plucking, strumming, isolating notes, creating tight impenetrable clusters, or enacting a call and response ethic that allows only the potential for a tune midway through the record.

Morris and Fernández take turns to give one another the chance to speak singularly. But the music hits its height when the two are going gangbusters at the same level of intensity, as in the last half of “Ambrosia 3.” No one “Ambrosia” can really be picked out as being better than any other “Ambrosia.” Absent of extremes, they are incredibly different and, in some ways, the same.

The range on the piano does reach the bass end of the keyboard but Fernández is interested in the wiriness of the sounding board strings. Morris does find low and high notes to play, and he is also entwined in the metallic nature of the strings of his guitar. It is the overt linearity of this music that is impressive and inescapable. No horn player could do this. There would be no time to take a breath.

Originally Published