Bryan Eubanks / Stéphane Rives - fq (Potlatch)

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As soon as fq begins, Stéphane Rives' soprano saxophone readily unites with the high-frequency tones of Bryan Eubanks' oscillator. It's immediately clear that both musicians are elevating the severity of their respective performances through uniformity. Compare this with Axiom for the Duration, Rives' collaborative release with Seijiro Murayama. There, the contrast in tone and timbre between the instruments was easily identifiable and allowed for a relatively balanced sound palette. Most of what we hear on this album, however, is high-pitched. And across its thirty minutes, it's this effective confluence of all these sounds that makes fq so satisfying.

Through speakers, the additive quality of Eubanks and Rives' instruments is incredibly clear. The components are frequently hard to separate and its only with repeated listens, especially with headphones, that one starts to get a grasp on how well both musicians play off each other. At times, one musician will disappear and the effect it has is noticeable. This first occurs a couple minutes in: a tone fluctuates between both channels, perhaps signaling the listener to note Rives' absence, and when he returns we can easily recognize how he contributes to the piece. This proves strategic as one can more fully appreciate the interplay between the two as Eubanks' feedback synthesizer begins to a play a prominent role in the album's middle section. Its jagged textures are slightly more animated than those on The Bornholmer Suite. And in conjunction with Rives' breathy squawks, this portion of fq finds the duo at their most delightfully raucous.

Earlier in the recording, one could faintly hear the passing of automobiles and people talking underneath Eubanks and Rives. But in the second half of fq, these 'extramusical' sounds are more audible. We hear more conversing and what is presumably a cart being wheeled around. As they get louder and closer, the musicians react and play as if guided by them. But most interesting is how this passage highlights how crucial the mixing is on this record. Around 19:30, a tone pans right and Rives softly returns but with these sounds accompanying him. A minute later, a tone pans right again but is soon counterbalanced with one in the left channel. This allows for the entrance of the aforementioned cart to be highlighted as it's situated directly between these two tones. This conscientious arranging of sounds exists throughout fq and lends to its effective pacing, making for a constantly engaging listen.

Elements of fq can feel familiar to those who have heard previous records from Eubanks and Rives. For one, Eubanks explored the acoustic properties of a cistern in Fort Warden State Park on his previous solo record and a continued interest in psychoacoustic phenomena is present here. Similarly, Rives has been an adventurous saxophone player for more than a decade and his style of playing here echoes that of Much Remains to be Heard and Fibres. Nevertheless, fq sounds like nothing in either artist's discographies, and the elegant marriage of styles here highlights the immense talent of both Eubanks and Rives.