Derek Bailey BIDS Review

Album. Released 2001.  

BBC Review

Electric guitar and drums. Raw and compelling improv.

Nick Reynolds 2002

The first time I saw Derek Bailey play guitar he reminded me of John Lee Hooker. Of course he doesn't sound anything like John Lee Hooker. Or perhaps he does, if you removed all of the tunes and all of the rhythm and all of the structure.

He leaves the listener in a uneasy limbo with no familiar musical landmarks and then punctuates it with brutal climaxes. Then he plays with a singular violence, torturing the thing, as for example at the end of "Midnight White" here. He scratches and scribbles all over it adding feedback to release the tension build up in the preceding twenty four minutes. It's raw and compelling. I always start to nod my head in rhythm at certain points, even though there is none.

He usually works well in duos with drummers or percussionists, since he often plays the guitar like a drum. Here his partner is Susie Ibarra who plays a full kit with a lot of shuffling and banging, and also accentuates the atmosphere of menace with soft cymbal rides and rumbles. On "Day Without End" he lets her chatter while adding his trademark weird harmonics that sound like he's playing backwards, then adds some more scrabbling and backwards feedback.

Bailey has grasped the essence of the guitar and pursued it obsessively for thirty years: its a nasty, noise-making machine. This album, recorded at a Festival in Norway is probably the closest he's ever come to stadium rock. There's more feedback and more drama than usual, some moments that are almost lyrical ("Shine"), some sudden lurches in volume, as well as some rambling passages where nothing much seems to happen.

How does it make me feel? Tense. Then excited.

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