Courtis/Moore | 2283
Gertrude Tapes (CD/DL)
In a collaboration celebrating its first decade, Alan Courtis and Aaron Moore deliver 2283 with the help of Omaha’s Gertrude Tapes. They employ a cavalcade of instruments, toys, objects and devices to deliver this unique ‘things that go bump in the night’ tape. At first it tinkers and squeals lightly, and as these half-dozen tracks begin to take hold the improvising duo strive for a live, performative feel that comes across like a series of secretive shuffle game experiments. They twist, hum and otherwise are thoughtfully playful throughout. But it’s not all fun and games.
A sawing effect here, a broken spool, all between breaking silences leading to a nuanced space that turns random noise into sound sculpture, piece by piece. And every now and then a short melody comes through, however brief or assymetrical. This seems to be most engaging when bells are added midway on 234. The track, a broken collage like the amazing coverart by Courtis himself (post no bills, indeed!), offers gentle strings and dings that mesh together like a Cambodian folk song.
Gurgles of a throat singer (or an even farther gone Tom Waits-like character) alongside a wiggly guitar rhythm like a backwards ode to the sea. It’s cheery and eerie and contemplative, all in one. When a tribal percussion emerges (296) this record fully nabs my ear. Instead of sounding vastly out of place, it feels right amid the other knocks of low range din. The scruffy jangling brings a needed earthiness to what initially began as tea for two. The company definitely bore strange fruit.
Towards the end the guitar is revved up, purring lightly, as the jungle spirit still circulates gently through the air. You are left with a dusty essence of prior chords still clinging, like an aftermath of a sonic eruption. And as the sparks begin to die down the energy continues to lift by way of a host of overlapping instruments and other mishigas. They wriggle through in what sounds like a culture clash – there’s something Middle Eastern, something Scottish, something Asian Pacific breaking through into the wee hours with a last gasp, before fading into oblivion.