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Jozef Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch - Concerning the Entrance into Eternity

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Artist: Jozef Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch

Album: Concerning the Entrance into Eternity

Label: Important

Review date: May. 4, 2012

Any year when a musician releases four albums, organizes a touring festival that touches down on both sides of the Atlantic, and scores a highly visible video game (The Medieval Sims) has to be rated as a pretty good year. For Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem, 2011 was such a year. But the bounty of Van Wissem’s awesome annum has spilled into 2012. His last solo album, The Joy That Never Ends, featured two duets with film-maker and guitarist Jim Jarmusch; since then the duo have played several concerts, and Concerning the Entrance into Eternity is their first complete album together.

Jarmusch may have earned his name recognition making movies, but he has also played guitar for decades, and his stint documenting Neil Young on tour with Crazy Horse means that he’s had plenty of opportunity to crib licks from the best. On the record’s first two tracks, Jarmusch makes like Young in Dead Man, thrusting stark peals of feedback around or through Van Wissem’s graceful figures. The Dutchman was an accomplished guitarist and a devotee of the blues before he ever picked up a lute; one of the instrument’s lures was the fact that it had once been, in European culture, as omnipresent as the guitar was in pop culture during the latter half of the 20th century. So he makes sure to include elements of traditional lute music, particularly palindromic structures. But he also knows how to interface with feedback. Roles reverse on the withering “The Sun of the Natural World is Pure Fire,” with Jarmusch pushing past Dead Man into Arc Weld territory while Van Wissem adopts a more fragmented approach.

There are two other pieces, one a delicate and tragedy-steeped acoustic duo, the other a recitation of a devotional verse by St. John of the Cross that constitutes Van Wissem’s most explicit expression of his fascination with Christian mysticism to date.

By Bill Meyer

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