Wholly satisfying, needing no other instrument to make it feel complete.
John Eyles 2009-12-01
Albums of bass and drums (as distinct from drum ‘n’ bass) are rare. In rock and jazz, bass and drums together are the engine room. They play an important role in maintaining the rhythm or pulse, but they must never steal the spotlight away from those in front of them.
In improvised music, things are less hierarchical, more democratic. Double bass and drums merit as much attention as any other instrument. That is particularly true if the bassist is John Edwards or the drummer is Chris Corsano. Each of them is an energetic, exploratory player and also an attention-grabbing spectacle.
Edwards and Corsano are both first-choice sidemen, very much in demand. They first played together in 2006 with saxophonist Evan Parker. It was immediately obvious the pair were kindred spirits. As Parker himself says in his notes for Tsktsking: “Their commitment and passion is audible in every note they play.”
As a soloist, Edwards is a whirlwind of activity. In some contexts, Corsano’s drumming can be rather too idiosyncratic and busy for some listeners. As a duo, they could have been an explosive mixture. Instead, they keep each other’s excesses in check. The resulting music is remarkably varied and subtle.
Across the four tracks here, there is constant ebb and flow between the bass and drums. Edwards and Corsano are well attuned to each other’s instincts, often combining to produce ensemble passages that verge on telepathic. But the biggest surprise must be how melodic they can be, together or separately.
Tsktsking achieves a good balance between rhythmic momentum and individual touches that make it distinctive. This could never be mistaken for a rhythm section record that is designed to be played along to. It is wholly satisfying in its own right, needing no other instrument to make it feel complete.
Recorded in December 2008, the album is released on vinyl and comes in a wrap-around silkscreened sleeve. The beauty of the presentation matches the fascination of the music within.