An intriguing collaboration from two titans of the avant garde...

There are collaborations which are conceived by men, and there are musical matches that seem to be made in heaven. Charles Hayward is best known for his work in This Heat, an innovative British band that had a worldwide impact on the experimental scene of the '70s, New York’s No Wave movement in particular. That was a place from which Sonic Youth, featuring Thurston Moore, emerged to the international fame, continuing This Heat’s tradition of complicated noise-rock textures.

It was inevitable for these individuals to interact, in one way or the other. Their paths crossed in the purest form possible – just the two of them in the studio, jamming and improvising with only a set of drums and a guitar.

Hayward masterfully switches between rhythms, quickly establishing his drumming as a main driving force of the duo, just as it was a crucial part of the band’s sound back in This Heat days. Moore mercilessly tortures the guitar in his signature way, scratching strings and moving from the all-out noise to catchy heavy grooves. 'Improvisations' is a real tour de force of the playing techniques that made these musicians the legends they are.

But here lies a major downside of the record. The more abstract and unconventional the music gets, the more it usually relies on a concept behind all of the racket – and the Hayward/Moore crossover never goes anywhere further than being just a crossover. The album is stripped bare of any other ideas whatsoever, as even the tracks here are left untitled. While presenting all of their best old tricks, neither of the two tries to use the momentum of their gathering to explore new territory, leaving us craving for something more elaborate, surprising and significant.

With the obvious potential fully realised, 'Improvisations’ could have become an instant cult classic, but in this raw, rushed and unfinished form it is hardly anything more than a collectible item for curious die-hard fans – which Care In The Community label seems to understand, releasing this album as a limited edition of 500 copies.


Words: Dmitry Teckel

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