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Michael Bisio/Matthew Shipp Duo: Floating Ice

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Bassist Michael Bisio has recorded extensively in leader and sideman roles, including his current spot in Matthew Shipp’s trio. Although there were moments on the trio’s recent Elastic Aspects album when Bisio and Shipp didn’t seem to properly connect, the trio’s spring 2012 tour and this set of duets say otherwise. In seven tracks, all credited to both of them, the players keep their ears on each other, exploring the sonic possibilities of their instruments and how they can interact.

Those familiar with either musician might expect some untamed frenzy, and Bisio and Shipp definitely deliver dark and stormy textures. Bisio utilizes his bow for intense scraping and howling in “Decay,” where Shipp begins by plucking his piano strings and ends with heavy handwork in the lower register. But the bassist also reveals subtlety in his upper-register arco sounds on “Supernova,” which brings out the lyrical side of Shipp as the track concludes. The first half of the program, in fact, is performed in a more restrained manner, even as the music flows freely. “The Queen’s Ballad” begins pensively, sliding in and out of tempo while retaining its identity as a ballad.

In the title track, Bisio creates a high level of excitement in a solo that precisely incorporates all four of his instrument’s strings. Although the musicians occasionally digress into personal tangents, they always manage to reconnect before things get too chaotic. Floating Ice offers an engaging look at their thought process.

Originally Published