Two With Milo Fine

Paul Metzger / Milo Fine
Nero’s Neptune

Milo Fine / Paul Metzger / Davu Seru
Locust Music

A brace of vinyl editions update us on the under-the-radar activities of snoopy multi-instrumentalists Paul Metzger and Milo Fine, here captured in different kinds of setting with equally gratifying results. The split LP on Nero’s Neptune comes in a beautiful sleeve made of translucent light brown paper, enough to make a fetishist collector salivate. But the contents are even worthier. Metzger’s Spontaneous Composition Generatoris named after the self-constructed instrument heard here, which utilizes 37 music box movements (dismembered and modified) and rubber bands, mounted in a wooden painter’s box to automatically play a transgendered kind of percussively dissonant sonata. What sounds like water drops, crackling wheels, zinging springs, double bass arco thumps and detuned xylophones are interspersed with mechanically-generated snoring (think Conlon Nancarrow falling asleep in front of his piano player). A great piece, perfectly complemented by Fine’s two segments on the other side. On the first piece (making use of clarinet and prepared piano), the Minneapolis maverick turns the contrasts between reed-fueled uncontrollability, hushed whispering and unstructured string resonance into a now intimidating, now intimate proposition full of jarring spikiness and emotion. The final track is solo drumming, showing the incredible energy and schizophrenic propulsion produced by an artist whose intensity – in conjunction with an in-your-face attitude frowned upon in certain well-regarded circles – can only be admired.
In Medusa’s Lair, a completely acoustic set recorded in 2009 by Metzger and Fine with drummer Davu Seru, we’re the witnesses of an atypical merging between the most flexible emanations of communicative liberty and a series of quieter, almost meditative explorations of moods that frequently revolve around tonal centers – it happens in improvisation, too – shaped by Metzger’s guitar, at times recalling Henry Kaiser’s early work on Metalanguage, at times sounding like a sitar. Apart from such unexpected references, there’s plenty of meat to chew on for anybody interested in fiery instrumental inventiveness. Fine’s performances are as cunningly exacerbating as ever, the man absolutely incapable of playing the same thing for more than five seconds, while Seru confounds and stimulates through his ability to maintain a degree of gentlemanliness across unnaturally fractured figurations. The combination of droning repetition, hysterically atonal honky-tonk and agnostic drumming heard at the beginning of the second part is a genuinely inspired improvisational statement. I couldn’t care less about who plays what: the sum total is a rewarding listen, and ultimately that’s what counts.


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