Colin Potter and Michael Begg - Fragile Pitches (2CD Omnempathy/Integrated Circuit)
As one might expect from this meeting of minds usually to be found, respectively, in Nurse With Wound and Human Greed, the nine cuts spread throughout these two discs, recorded live at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh at the end 2009, fall somewhere between minimalist timbral shimmer and hazy atmospherics of a melancholic persuasion. All the while, found sounds, samples, cavernous moans and tiny spatterings of carefully teased clatter and clang are woven into the proceedings in order to sustain an air where movement presides over all else. The idea appearing to be a lulling of the listener to a place where getting too comfortable won’t be quite as easy as initially imagined.
Following the first two pieces, ‘Camethy’ and ‘Threipmuir’, which seem as though Potter and Begg are merely testing the space they are in for the most part, ‘Cauldestaneslap’ pays witness to something deeper and more dramatic creeping into the melee. The ghostly rolls of fog spread their tendrils less like padding to, say, Max Richter’s piano works and into those far murkier waters where reflections remain forever broken and mysterious. It is from this point on that Fragile Pitches works not only as an entity in its own right, but indicates it has been generated by two artists firmly at the top of their game.
Throughout the remaining cuts, there is little letting up of the tension binding everything together. Perhaps at times, such as on ‘Harper Rig’, some of the tones glisten in a similar way to those found in Fovea Hex (the group Begg also shares alongside Clodagh Simonds, and that has also included Potter as a part-time collaborator), but I think we can make concessions.
What this album ultimately achieves is both an outright sense of command of sounds that could so easily, in the wrong hands, fall victim to predictability and, more importantly, a stately presence best supported by the venue choice from which it was recorded.
I haven’t the faintest if this was a one-off collaboration (which saw an extra performance in November 2010 in Poland), but let’s keep our fingers crossed that this pair are hatching more such work together.The first 120 copies included a bonus CDR. Long, long gone, of course. RJ