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(56:17, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Secrets 6:38 2. Random Abstract 6:02 3. Decaying Sky 7:58 4. New Pop 7:10 5. Something in Between 7:51 6. Deep Ocean 6:53 7. Place with a View 4:56 8. Workplace 4:06 9. No Hope 4:44 LINEUP: Xavi Reija – drums Dusan Jevtovic – guitar
Prolusion. The international project XADU is the name of a collaboration between Spanish drummer Xavi Reija and Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic, both of whom operate out of Barcelona in Spain, and who have worked together in various capacities for a good number of years. This project heralds their first venture as a creative duo, and their debut album "Random Abstract" was released through Moonjune Records in 2015.
Analysis. This album, alongside Reija's and Jevtovic's own productions, released by Moonjune Records, represents something of an oddity in the musical landscape. This CD perhaps more than any of the aforementioned ones, as the scope of the album is so experimental and minimalistic. While guitar and drummer based operations aren't all that alien these days, The White Stripes created a career out of exploring material by using those two instruments alone, XaDu isn't a project comparable with minimalistic rock bands of that kind at all. Nor is this a project that stays safely within the parameters of jazz or jazz rock, the two genres you'll most often encounter on a Moonjune Records production. This is an album of eerie music, otherworldly and at times nightmarish, a recording where conventional melodies and harmonies have made a grand escape from the proceedings, most likely in some haste too. Reija provides an impressive display of drum patterns to the proceedings, as able to contribute delicate percussion details as he is in kicking and hitting thundering and booming rhythms, and is adventurous and expressive when there's room to be so and maintains a steadier pattern when the antics of compatriot Jevtovic merit that the drums maintain more of a grounding effect. Which, I should add, happens on a regular basis here. That Reija, alongside Jevtovic, also has the occasional orientation towards what might be described as free form kind of comes with the territory, I guess, like the fragmenting, chaotic end sequence on Decaying Sky. The dominant aspect of this production is the guitar, however. While Jevtovic shows that he is more than capable of providing careful, wandering and tantalizing guitar motifs, as on the more dream-laden opener Secrets or later on with the compelling main motif on New Pop, this is a production that revolves around the guitar used in a more expressive manner. Shrill sounds, echoing notes and reverbs (or perhaps feedback) dominate these proceedings. Not as a sole constant, but as supplemental and dominating detail to plucked guitar motifs, riffs and soloing. Scale runs appear and disappear in between surges of twisted sounds, sometimes dramatic in character and at other times more subtle, at times to the point of psychedelic. Careful and light in spirit, as on opening number Secrets, or dark and ominous as on Deep Ocean. The harsh, dark sounds and chaotic tendencies on the creation Workplace are another interesting little tidbit, one might assume that the instrumentalists involved here aren't overly eager to join the nine to five brigade, if this piece of music can be regarded as an indication. As most of these creations also feature layered guitar motifs, I'd suspect that these tracks have either had some extra details added in the studio or that some loops have been involved. I'd suspect the latter in this case, first and foremost, because I have seen Jevtovic perform live and know a bit about what he is capable of as a guitarist. If it is one or the other isn't all that important, of course, but of the latter is the case, and this is an album of live-in-the-studio recordings without any additions, there are some guitarists out there that, I suspect, will have to pick up their jaws from the floor when they listen to this material. With a few notable exceptions, a guy like Matt Stevens wouldn't be all that surprised, for instance.
Conclusion. "Random Abstract" comes across as an adventurous and at times highly challenging production, where two quality musicians appear to have a jolly good time of using their instruments in at times highly expressive manners, yet without loosing touch on the musical aspects of the total experience. There are liberal amounts of dissonance and twisted sounds indeed, but they are rarely, if ever, random and there are always some details that maintain continuity, and earlier phases are revisited perhaps to stress that aspect of the album. An album to be sought out by those with a taste for quality musicians who enjoy experimenting, and perhaps in particular those fond of adventurous and unusual guitar sounds.
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