SYCAMORE David Daniell & Douglas McCombs
by Shane Miller
Mar 12, 2010 | 4261 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print

David Daniell and Douglas McCombs first met while they both were touring as part of Rhys Chatham's six-guitar Die Donnergötter band, which should give you some indication that their first official collaboration as a duo, Sycamore, is something out of the ordinary. Much like Chatham's experimental work, Sycamore pushes the boundaries, creating mini-symphonies by slowly building layers of drone and noise.

The four-song album was fine-tuned from hours and hours - 7 1/2 to be exact - of recorded improvisation between Daniell, a well-respected avant garde guitarist in his own right, and McCombs, who is best known as the bassist for Tortoise, but has worked with many artists.

Despite the potential pretense of distilling that much material down to about 40 minutes worth of music, the effort is seamless. The album begins much like you would expect, the slow build-up of layer upon layer of music on opener “F# Song.” But from there the album becomes much more rhythmic with “Bursera,” and continues to improve through to the end.

Editing that much material together is as impressive a skill as playing the actual music, but Daniell and McCombs obviously shared a common vision on Sycamore, managing to create an organic and adventurous album that could have been a patchwork train wreck.

Sycamore was released last August on Thrill Jockey, but New York audiences will get a chance to see it live when Daniell and McCombs play Union Pool, 484 Union Avenue in Brooklyn, on March 14. For more ticket information, visit their website.

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