Lost In Space

Listening to an improvised duet between two musicians long familiar with each other's playing is akin to overhearing a private conversation between old friends. In the case of Soul Search, a collaboration between guitarist Joe Morris and violinist Mat Maneri, the conversation is just not all that engrossing.

Throughout Morris plays closely spaced clusters of short quick notes, either plucked or picked, with almost no strumming, chords or sustained notes. Maneri is similarly monochromatic, sawing furiously with little variation. What variation there is, in fact, seems to be between passages that are audible and nearly inaudible.

"Slight of Hand" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Soul Search" (RealAudio excerpt) sound nearly identical, while the first couple of minutes of "Eyes or Gaze" (RealAudio excerpt) are almost impossible to hear without cranking up the volume.

Duet recordings such as Soul Search are made in the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. For a fine example, listen to guitarists Derek Bailey and Henry Kaiser's Wireforks or the magnificent duet between violinist Leroy Jenkins and drummer Rashied Ali on Swift Are the Winds of Life, just reissued on Knit Classics.

On Soul Search, there is no lightning. The bottle is just plain empty.