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Susana Santos Silva and Fred Frith Laying Demons to Rest (Rogue Art)

The Portuguese trumpeter and British guitarist are a musical match.

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Cover of Laying Demons to Rest

Portuguese trumpeter/ composer Susana Santos Silva and legendary hammering British guitarist Fred Frith are a match made in improvisational heaven. Or hell, if the title of their newest live duo disc holds sway. A score composer often consumed by immersive elements of body movement and dance, quietly crafted nuance and trembling symmetry is built into Silva’s most experimental writings. At first glance, that would seem anathema to that which Frith holds dear: the chaos of thunder and storm that make up his patented noise-scapes, where a guitar is treated more like a percussion instrument that owes him money than a stringed thing. 

Yet, for 42 minutes and one long improvisational movement, Silva and Frith find bittersweet melancholic collective cool and Morricone-like majesty amidst its whirrs, blurts and brays. 

The sweet-tart counterparts commence proceedings with Silva’s spittle-spraying bee-buzzes and Frith’s saws and taps before moving into lengthy breathy passages where the trumpeter’s noir melody and silver sliver of harmony resembles Mark Isham—had he played through the swirl of David Bowie’s elegiac Blackstar. As she grows louder and more elephantine, an unusually restrained Frith— whether in response to Silva or talking to himself—sounds as if he is running a plectrum over an electric fence, before plunking, panning, rumbling and rocking with surprising conventionality and grace. 

The tremulous twosome wind through each other’s curious tones and rests for an extended time—a conversation with drunken blorts and eerily calm pauses—until the movement’s finale, a Frith-ian freakout of epic proportions with Silva’s own brand of moody chaos as Demons punctuation.