Album Appreciation: Dichotomy of Control by Martin Rude and Jakob Skøtt Duo

This is the second album from Rude and Skøtt this year, and, I have to say, this high output has not had any effect on quality. The previous album, ‘The Discipline of Assent’, which I wrote about here, was:

…a record that pays homage to the great innovators of jazz: Miles & Trane (or perhaps more fittingly their peak-drummers: Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette & Elvin Jones), as well as Mingus at his fiercest or Sun Ra at his most exotic. Not merely a tribute, the album doubles down with guitar pickings ala John Fahey & Sandy Bull, as well as sparse layers of oddly-tempered mallet percussion and synthesizers.

…which I described as being “like one of those films where the protagonists fall through walls into completely different sets”. I really liked it’s eclecticism and enjoyed it in its own right, never mind the giants on the shoulders of which it stood.

After that this follow up feels like much more like it is starting from a clear drawing board. There is a renewed freshness to the sound here which could come from the post-recording dubs that Skøtt has layered in, giving this recording much more of a ‘band’ feel than the more chamber/ duo vibe on it’s predecessor.

As such these two albums feel like to very different propositions, which for me is definitely a good thing… I’m not a big fan of musicians turning out essentially the same album time after time.

The record kicks off strongly with ‘Ode To Sadiq’ , here Rude is on fine form with the double bass, augmented with some fine effects from Skøtt which give the track a lovely sinister and creepy feel… it feels like your tripping through some sort of dense undergrowth… not quite fully in control of the senses and letting your imagination fly.

‘Memory Tree’ immediately feels like a more focussed proposition, with Rude replacing the double bass with acoustic guitar. The vibe here is far more laid back inviting the listener to chill and go along with the flow… and a rather delicious flow at that.

The more mysterious angle returns with ‘Quem Não Arrisca’… the layers of sound are particularly noticeable in this short number which, as you peel them back, you feel as you’re getting deeper inside the matrix.

After that ‘Shadowland’ feels like a distant dream… half forgotten thoughts swirl round a well-formed guitar strand with various effects fading in and out, and merging into other things. Again though is this laid back vibe which really dominates this set… easy to listen to without being ‘easy listening’.

The jazz band element really comes to the fore in ‘The Veil’… all of a sudden you could be at a gig as this track has a much more live/ raw feel… albeit with more than the two musicians here playing. The music is dense and syncopated and you feel impelled to move along with it… almost at running pace at times, and while there is some fragmentation towards the end this somehow adds to the overall effect… marvellous!

’Epictetus Wash’ is different again, adding a bucolic element to the proceedings. Here the interplay of Skøtt’s drumming and Rudd’s guitar work reminds you how good they are as a duo. Following that relatively short track comes ‘The Rest of the Way’, which also feels more intimate than what has gone before. Again you notice the two players more at the forefront with the overdubs and effects more subtly in the background, something which really showcases their talent as musicians.

The penultimate track, ‘Une Découverte Retentissante’, has the feel of a slow free-jazz number which gives the sensation of you feeling your way slowly through a darkened tunnel… there’s an initial hesitancy there before you become accustomed to the lack of light, and then it’s all systems go as the number picks up speed as the duo head for the ‘resounding discovery’ of the title.

The album finishes off with a lovely long track, ‘Canyon Collage’ which you can really stretch out to… the format means that that there’s even more room for exploration here. And while there is the same theme running through it, Rude and Skøtt mix things up nicely with a slower mid-section, returning to the original pace again. This aside this feels like a sound that you can really zone out to… adding another layer to this chiller of an album.

…and this is the overall vibe you get from ‘The Dichotomy of Control’. It is a set which is, for me, just a wonderful listen from start to finish. I just love the relationship between the constant zoned-out atmosphere with the eclectic nature of the different tracks. This is evident in the way that they are mixed, sometimes the instruments are nestled beneath layers of effects and other overdubs… at other points sense that the musicians are a duo playing together comes to the fore. Both approaches work for me, and compliment each other, making this one of my favourite releases of the year. I could listen to it all day…



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