Downtown Music Gallery
Review: Ken Aldcroft/Joel LeBlanc "The Long and the Short of it" (TRP-DS02-016)
BY: Bruce Lee Gallanter

Mr. Aldcroft is a longtime Toronto-based guitarist who has played at DMG several times over the past few years. Ken favors duos and has played here with William Parker twice and with Andy Haas once. I wasn't familiar with Mr. LeBlanc before this disc but he does have a couple of discs out as a leader. The title of this disc, "The Long and the Short of it" refers to the fact that there is two long and two short pieces. The guitarists use different effects for contrast, making each player sound very different. On "The Short I", one has a clean/thinner tone and the other slightly fuzzy tone. Both play quick, fractured notes in an intense flurry of activity. For "The Long I", things begin with slow, hovering, slightly manipulated sounds. Again one guitar has a clean tone playing jazz-like phrases while the other guitar uses eerie, echoed effects. The two guitars slowly weave their licks around one another, occasionally scraping strings as things get more dense. The guitarists systematically explore different textures or techniques like slide, bent notes and other odd sounds. The subtle bending of notes and other manipulation gives the proceedings a somewhat hypnotic vibe. The music here is more like an ongoing dialogue between two crafty guitarists, tossing ideas back and forth. The duo goes further out on "The Long II", parts of which remind me of Derek Bailey's twisted explorations. There is an odd yet effective balance between single note flurries and bent chords, each adding shades or colors the others' ongoing tapestry. This disc takes some concentration and patience in order to see/hear how it fits together. Demanding yet rewarding.