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Flower-Corsano Duo - The Four Aims

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Artist: Flower-Corsano Duo

Album: The Four Aims

Label: VHF

Review date: Mar. 26, 2009

Chris Corsano, hyper-kinetic percussionist, is best known for his collaborations with saxophone maestro Paul Flaherty. He’s recorded with the Connecticut firestarter numerous times as a duo, as well as within the context of larger groups. But it’s not his only fruitful pairing; the drummer has also made music with Jim O’Rourke, Burning Star Core’s C. Spencer Yeh and Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny. His most exciting non-Flaherty collaboration, however, is the Flower-Corsano Duo, in which Corsano makes a joyful noise with Vibracathedral Orchestra’s Mick Flower. The Radiant Mirror, the pair’s 2007 debut, is a blistering document, matching Corsano’s kitchen-sink percussion work with Flower’s electrifying Shahi Baaja (also known, in a bit of a misnomer, as an Indian banjo) in one of that year’s best records.

The Four Aims finds the scope of the duo’s instrumentation widened, with more diverse results, but, at its core, this disc remains true to the pair’s original M.O., and with two musicians this gifted, it’s hard to imagine their collaborative work being anything less than outstanding. As exciting as The Radiant Mirror is, the slight change of pace offered here is welcome. It’s a pleasure to hear musicians who can stay out of ruts upon discovering a groove, and given the time Flower and Corsano have logged together, it’s no surprise that their natural trajectory as playing partners has begun to branch out. “The Three Degrees of Temptation” strips the distortion from Flower’s tone, with Corsano concentrating less on drums and more on instruments of a sparser clang and clatter. The most divergent of the duo’s extra-curricular excursions is “The Drifter’s Miracles,” which disposes with the percussion altogether. Corsano takes up a cello in a rich, droning duet of strings that flows like a colorful river.

There’s plenty of the duo’s signature sound on The Four Aims, however, and those who need their fix will certainly get it. The aptly christened “The Main Ingredient” is the album’s closer and most satisfying track, rollicking through almost 12 minutes at a full boil before reaching a beautiful denouement, with Corsano’s drums picking up again in their most strident and rhythmic contribution to the album. The pair foils their newfound linearity just as it begins to truly coalesce, allowing the threads to unravel just before the listener gets too comfortable.

Despite all of The Four Aims’ wild clamor, the disc isn’t a total free-for-all; Flower often elicits melodic fragments from his Shahi Baaja, his frantic fingering producing gems of apocryphal exoticism. Working at the two ends of his instrument, Flower sometimes seems capable of playing a duet with himself. Corsano, despite the illusion that he might, too, have six arms, rarely seems out-of-control. His busy percussion is more often a rapid series of precise shots than a spray of bullets.

The Four Aims‘ only disappointment is its uneven fidelity, which can’t match the bright clarity of The Radiant Mirror. But even if some of the details aren’t quite as clear, there’s more than enough to sink one’s teeth into here. When Corsano and Flaherty arrived on the scene together, it might have seemed ludicrous to say that the drummer would find another pairing that provided the same level of excitement. After two great recordings, the Flower-Corsano Duo is well on its way.

By Adam Strohm

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