By Alain Drouot | Published July 2019
Duos, trios and one quartet are featured on this retrospective sampling of 2006–2016 performances by guitarist Fred Frith at iconic New York venue The Stone. It’s an understatement to say that there’s a lot to process on this three-disc set, and as with any endeavor, some pieces will mesmerize or delight more than others. The entirety of the program falls under the free improvisation banner with textures, colors, tones and pitches at the heart of most of the pieces; electronics and effects dominate. Normal, Frith’s duo with junk master Sudhu Tewari, churns out disturbing soundscapes; and “Identity Crisis” finds Jessica Lurie’s lyrical saxophone added to a trio and pitted against Frith’s liquefied guitar. Interestingly, collaborations with the best-known artists here usually are not as compelling. But there still are moments to savor, including the ominous “Slipping,” which pairs Frith with avant-gardist Ikue Mori and trumpeter Nate Wooley.
Live At The Stone: All Is Always Now: Disc one: Another Ship Moves In; Identity Crisis; A Complicated Path; Strife And Soil; Limited Strike; Silver Lining; Slipping; World Of Grief And Doubt. Disc two: Concussion Suit; From The Backstretch; Shrug At Truth; Reasons To Dream; What Gets Left Behind; Like Animals; A Measure Of Solace. Disc three: Deter And Degrade; Of Finest Silver; Veils; Held Again; Flare; Hero Of The Space Age; Devoted To A Failed Approach; Evidence. (66:47/65:28/66:32)
Personnel: Fred Frith, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, vocals; Laurie Anderson, violin, keyboards, electronics; Amma Ateria, Ikue Mori, electronics; Sylvie Courvoisier, Annie Lewandowski, Else Olsen Storesund, piano; Nava Dunkelman, percussion; Jordan Glenn, drums; Shelley Hirsch, Clara Weil, vocals; Jason Hoopes, bass, electric bass; Jessica Lurie, Evan Parker, saxophone; Miya Masaoka, koto, electronics; Pauline Oliveros, accordion; Gyan Riley, electric guitar; Sudhu Tewari, recuperated junk; Theresa Wong, cello, vocals, electronics; Nate Wooley, trumpet.