I'm on fire. Complete 15th August 2001 is the best I've heard in a long time. Incredibly good. This disc is simply a must. That's it. But why?
Derek Bailey. A legend. He hardly needs any introduction, but this much can be said: Derek Bailey played guitar. Like no other before or after.
The first time I heard Derek Bailey was on Brötzmanns Nipples from 1969. I had difficulty breathing and felt some dizziness. Vafalls, I thought, what's the guitarist? He turned it upside down on my sound world. My next meeting with Bailey was solo on his Ballads from 2002. Vafalls, I thought once again, how can you have such a gruesome focus in its expression? After that I have heard countless recordings with Bailey, but the feeling of constantly and re constantly struck by amazement and always discover something new is always there and this is unique to Derek Bailey's music.
Luckily, Derek Bailey well documented. There are lots of recordings issued, but it just so happens that duos with double bassists are quite rare in his catalog. Of course there are fine examples (with, for example, Peter Kowald and Joëlle Léandre), but here we are now, therefore, a new CD of duos between Briton Simon H. Fell on the large base and Bailey on acoustic guitar. Complete 15th August 2001 is recorded in London and released on CD on the Confront (run by the eminent cellist Mark Wastell). The disk resembles a small vinyl and comes in a metal box. It is a stylish and very good looking release.
Simon H. Fell is also a well-established British musicians, with one foot in the free improvisation and the other in the composed music. He has an extensive resume and I am not ashamed to call him a virtuoso bassist. Fell has a damn pressure in the fingers and plays with rugged trail. He does not hesitate, but cones on for queen and country.
And it is a joy to hear Bailey just on the acoustic guitar, and it is raw yet fragile. The strum, sing and scrapes and Bailey plays with heart and soul and not a single sound is superfluous. A small anecdote (thanks to Mark Wastell for it): guitar Derek Bailey playing on was a new custom built guitar that he just received, but apparently he liked it and never stopped completely to play on it. So this recording is probably the only existing document in which he plays on this guitar. One might wonder why he did not like it, that sounds fantastic. Well then.
The music on The Complete 15th August 2001 is very powerful. Live. Organic. You can feel nature and its urkrafter, its intensity. It sounds like the storm of the century, something gruesome and unstoppable pulling back and tear up, tear down everything that comes in its way. I think of the forest. Dark trees that sway in the wind, a deep green mass that closes around me. The two gentlemen are creating a huge soundscape that draws in and threatens to suffocate the listener. It is at times almost nasty. Destruction, pillaging of an old spruce, maybe the soundtrack to the apocalypse.
But ok, then there are not already plenty of good recordings with Mr. Bailey? Certainly. Why, then get this album? Do we need it? Do we need more Derek Bailey? The answer is of course YES! Yes yes yes yes yes, we need to Derek Bailey. Always. Especially now, in a time when music mass produced, objectified, commercialized and fördummas, it is important to remember this man with an ever-morose facial expressions really hard were his principles and refused to give in to any sensibilities. Derek Bailey has always sounded like Derek Bailey, and there is no doubt that he is one of history's most important musicians. End of story.
The Complete 15th August 2001 is music in its rawest, purest form. The shakes and recalls how much music can be. Or not. After the second track, after two very serious and focused paragraphs with incredible intensity, one hears the men calmly discuss, "Want to take a cup of tea?" "Yes, that we may well". This brings things down to earth, and the contrast is amazing. Music can mean so much. Or so little.
(Translation via google so sorry for any inaccuracies)