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Stern/Guerra - Stitch

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Artist: Stern/Guerra

Album: Stitch

Label: Impermanent

Review date: Jan. 7, 2004

Joel Stern and Anthony Guerra are two Australian musicians caught in a deadlock between life in mercurial London and the more sedate climbs of their home country. Guerra shifted to London from Sydney in 1999. Joel Stern followed from Melbourne in 2000, although word has it that he has retreated to his home town in recent times. Guerra, who also co-convenes the Two Thousand And label, remains present within Australia’s underground music enclave, often spotted at the yearly What is Music festival curated by Oren Ambarchi and Robbie Avenaim. While in London, Stern and Guerra predominantly recorded and performed in their duo configuration, but also branched out to collaborate with artists such as Rosy Parlane, Eddie Prevost, and Paul Hood. The duo subsequently founded the Musicgroupmusic collective, working alongside Rohan Thomas, Matthew Hyland, Michael Rodgers and countless others in the back room of a desiccated building doubling as an Indian restaurant.

Stitch makes its folded and laminated ethos clear from the title forward. Stern and Guerra document their improvisations on minidisc and subsequently edit the recordings, sculpting them into miniatures and vaguely structured pieces through the utilization of oblique strategies. They share an obsession with field recordings and you can certainly sense the presence of external dialogues running through the record: tweaked electronics are often slid up against open-air recitals or sounds captured from the stars, offering an elemental counterpoint to the duo’s manipulations. Guerra complicates matters by way of his work on the electric guitar. He’s a steady presence throughout the recordings, letting notes loose to find their way through the bank of fog parsed out by Stern’s combinatory electronics. The duo’s attention to the maximal and the minimal is judicious, letting the tiniest cogs of sound flit through air-borne drones. Everything comes to rest during the final track, where a pellucid stream of notes are flinted from Guerra’s guitar, a gorgeous threnody that’s set to rest on a shifting bed of sandy dirt, the duo fossicking for gold while caught underneath a dense shroud of mist.

By Jon Dale

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