December 4, 2007
Carlos Bechegas/Barry Guy
By Ken Waxman
Adapting the triggered oscillations available from sound processing to his airy instrument, Portuguese flutist Carlos Bechegas suitably arms his miniature cross-blown woodwind for completely improvised jousts with the hulking double bass and immense musical strategies of Britain’s Barry Guy.
Adding verbal squeals, circular breathing and emphasized glissandi to alternately create vibrating cistern-deep or falsetto tones, Bechegas comes across like an amalgam of flautist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, soprano saxophonist Evan Parker and barnyard full of uncontrollable peeping fowl. Yet Guy, whose instrumental command ranges across sweeping rasgueado pulses and guitar-like arpeggios to include widely splayed shuffle bowing and rhythmic stopping, is as unruffled here as he would be playing with long-time associate Parker or pushing a large ensemble. The emphasis is on mutual transcendence not divergence.
As each partner clones himself into multiples, it sometimes sounds as if both are playing more than one instrument at a time. At points, Guy’s woody thumping complement Bechegas’ tongue-stopping octave runs while the bassist’s frantic sawing spiccato leads the flutist’s simultaneous humming and tongue stopping on a fox’n’hounds-like chase elsewhere.
Concluding with a fourth variation on the CD’s title theme, Guy’s solid bow pressure creates a solid block of highly rhythmic stops which evolve to sul tasto rubs, in order to help solidify Bechegas’ lightly resonated breaths into almost pastoral obbligatos. The bassist – who in the past has memorably collaborated with other veteran improv masters like German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach and German bassist Peter Kowald – proves that limited electronic input can augment fragile acoustic textures to create notable interaction no matter the size of the other partner’s instrument – or talent.
In MusicWorks Issue #99