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Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid: The Exchange Session Vol. 1

Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid: The Exchange Session Vol. 1

Release Date:2006

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 3/29/2006

In The Exchange Session Vol. 1’s
packaging, there’s a nifty three-layer cake of superimposed photographs that captures the disc’s spirit nicely: Kieran Hebden calmly adjusting studio equipment levels, purple-tinted flowers caught in bloom, and drummer Steve Reid preparing to maul his kit, his arms outstretched, neck muscles taut, and mouth slightly agape. Four Tet’s Hebden and Reid—a jazz legend who has appeared on wax and/or stage with the likes of Martha and the Vandellas, the Sun Ra Arkestra, James Brown, and Miles Davis—free-improvise on this first installment in a two-disc series.

“Morning Prayer” starts out stoner-fabulous, Reid barely skimming his cymbals while Hebden’s electronics imitate both tribal woodwinds and cycling clothes dryers. This reverie is quickly broken by what sounds like unhinged sax blats and Reid beginning to strike his drums lightly. Before long the duo edge into free-jazz territory. More intriguing still is “Soul Oscillations,” a rich, vibrant netherworld packed with copious snare-crashes, watery steel-drum clicks, and gargled electronic tones that accelerate into a white-hot tempest. Hebden simulates the mating calls of cyborg cicadas while Reid makes like a human avalanche. Fifteen-minute closer “Electricity and Drum Will Change Your Mind” transitions from undersea idyll to what sounds like John McEntire remixing Tortoise while high on crack—as good a teaser as any for Vol. 2, due out in June.

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