Stephen O’Malley & Steve Noble are the two men behind one of the most exploratory and disturbing path voids into the dark spheres of sound. St. Francis Duo on Bo’Weavil Recordings is the culmination of the pairing of these two man and more specifically two live recording in 2010 at London’s Cafe OTO in the middle of August between the two. With guitarists Stephen O’Malley’s integral role in the compositions and direction of avant-garde doom metal pioneers Sunn O))) branching inside the tribal heavy and experimentally textured musings of UK jazz drummer Steve Noble, the possibilities are truly endless with the room available and the depth they go. Not even a minute into this record and the two are fully locked in and bridging their worlds seamlessly. Broken into four sides, sides A and B come from recordings captured on the first night of August 18th and sides C and D come from the performance given on the 19th.
The cover of the LP is one of mystery that shows the overgrowth of trees into the remains of a brick building. A window that is hidden in weeds appears like the sounds that rise in and out on St. Francis Duo. With pictures in the sleeve work of both players from the evening, the anticipation felt unreal as I put this one on. A little over an hour later and the improvisatory and terrain like worlds of St. Francis Duo had completely lifted the ground up from which I was standing on. I kept asking myself, “is this really improvisation?”
Stephen O’Malley’ moves his guitar in snake like procession, illuminating texture and tone over power in many instances, showing the remnant of a distant bewildering shock wave that is coming. When the minimal stretches empty out into almost nothingness, there is always a really euphoric and underlying mysticism present, with the drums giving way to depths that truly convey from how minimal the guitar is. Steve Noble is always exploring his kit in organic ways, drastically interweaving around Stephen to always shake his sonic assaults right back into position. When the two take on velocity and power, the results take the mind to a grinding head splitting realities of saturated glossolalia in instrumentation. There is a very ancient aura that exists in places as well, dating far back much before recorded music even existed.
Swells and swells of power culminate all over St. Francis Duo as the music feels like it’s smashing all matter into vapor and rebuilding from new chemical existences. The pulls, pushes and releases are intense and unbelievable, always reflective of the connection levels that can be achieved through improvisation. Many improvisation records take a lot of time to get interesting, this recording left me wondering when it wouldn’t be.
Stephen O’Malley & Steve Noble
St. Francis Duo
Check out an excerpt clip that experimedia.net released