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Paul Lytton & Nate Wooley: The Nows

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Paul Lytton and Nate Wooley make a good match. The English drummer and the American trumpeter (respectively) are a pair of iconoclasts, and on The Nows they create strangely alluring modern improvised music that contains not one iota of anything musical. The Nows, a two-CD set, was recorded during two stops on the duo’s 2011 tour, which featured collaborations with other musicians. Half of each set presented here features guest spots: computer artist Ikue Mori on one, multi-reedsman Ken Vandermark on the other.

Lytton’s pointillistic style, which could hardly be called rhythm keeping or even drumming, is sharply focused. He skitters the sticks on the skins and scrapes metallic gewgaws against one another, creating the impression of a handyman tottering about in his workshop. Wooley does everything he can to convince you that the trumpet is not intended for playing notes: barking, moaning, chirping, shrieking, muttering, murmuring, cackling, weeping, belching and otherwise exclaiming through the mouthpiece. One moment these guys sound like an industrial accident-the next, like a kitchen with a teapot boiling on the stove. The opener, the 35 1/2-minute “Free Will, Free Won’t,” is not a song, it’s a collection of random noises. Yet I want to listen to it again and again.

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