Barry Guy & Mats Gustafsson | Sinners, Rather Than Saints | No Business Records

Barry Guy : contrabass | Mats Gustafsson : alto fluteophone and baritone sax

Tracklist: Side A: 1. CAN YE WHEEPLE, PUGGY? (duo) 5’20” 2. ODYSSEY (solo) 6’39” 3. FLISK THE THRAPPLE (duo) 8’04” | Side B: 4. SLEEP LEAPER (for Alan Davie) (solo) 10’44” 5. BLAD A SKELLOCH (duo) 10’20”

All solo pieces composed by Barry Guy (PRS, PPL). All duo pieces composed by Barry Guy (PRS , PPL) and Mats Gustafsson (STIM). Recorded 11th January 2009 in Vilnius, at St. Catherine’s Church. Mixed and mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Pictures made by Dmitrij Matvejev. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Executive producer – Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov. Limited Edition of 500 records.

An outstanding performance by two gross masters of European free improvisation Barry Guy and Mats Gustafsson recorded live in January 2009 at St. Catherine’s Church, Vilnius. This recording is a document of ultimate beauty and imagination, enlightenment and eternity.

NoBusiness team thanks Maya Homburger for her warm and friendly participation, as well as the invaluable help she provided during the whole project. Great thanks to YOU !!!

Barry Guy & Mats Gustafsson | Sinners, Rather Than Saints | no business records

LP version
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3 thoughts on “Barry Guy & Mats Gustafsson | Sinners, Rather Than Saints | No Business Records

  1. En janvier dernier à Vilnius, église Sainte Catherine, Barry Guy improvisait seul ou en compagnie de Mats Gustafsson.

    Là, se laissait d’abord aller de pizzicatos lents en précipitations mélodiques – mélancolie affectée par une suite d’emportements mesurés – sans réussir à faire d’Odyssey autre chose qu’une version de plus d’un thème qu’il chérit. Heureusement, l’archet plus inspiré de Sleep Leaper rectifiera le tir : répétitif et instable, Guy s’y fond en un lyrisme noir, baroque enfin débarrassé de tous codes astreignants.

    Aux côtés de Gustafsson, le contrebassiste dépose ailleurs un paysage indolent d’où sortira un échange ravageur : le saxophoniste imposant rapidement son allure (Can Ye Wheeple Puggy?) avant de prendre fait et cause pour une déconstruction revendiquant le statut de belle œuvre intacte (Flisk The Thrapple) et puis de dire tout le reste au son de collisions : Blad a Skelloch, où interjections contre archet provocateur, insistances d’une note et souffles étouffés à l’intérieur du baryton, tissent des phrases inquiètes et rares qui n’en peuvent plus de ponctuations. Enfin, une mélodie s’installe. Frêle, elle cède la place au silence, qui semble là pour finir de composer Sinners, Rather than Saints.

  2. Sinners, rather than Saints is only the fourth meeting on record of English bassist-composer Barry Guy and Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson over almost two decades, and for that alone this vinyl-only release on Lithuanian imprint No Business should be more than a curio. The duo format is an interesting one, which the bassist previously visited with Evan Parker on a pair of LPs for the SAJ and Jazz & Now labels, but apart from a surface similarity of instrumentation, Sinners is a different animal. At this point in his career, Gustafsson’s mettle seems firmly planted in damaged punk-jazz fist-pumping with The Thing, a meaty, Nordic heir apparent to the Wuppertal axis of free improvisation. Guy, on the other hand, is a painter of lush sonorities on pedal-assisted five-string double bass, and though his lines can be scumbled and frantic, texture and orchestration are among the first-reached tools in his arsenal.

    Gustafsson opens the set on alto flutophone, a delicate ocarina-like metallic warble offset by col legno harmonics and open-string rattle below the bridge. Guy’s rhythmic wood and metal knocks provide a deep backing for the reedman’s flight, which quickly peels paint before returning to whispery depths. It’s a hell of an overture, though the bassist’s one man orchestra of excited strings is considerably more colorful than his partner’s screaming reeds. Guy’s solo “Odyssey” is an extraordinarily romantic poem of technique and physicality, fleet plucks reminiscent of a tonal Derek Bailey underpinned by electronic drones. It’s possible that with such essays, Guy might be the Eberhard Weber of contemporary improvisation, the way his pedal-fleshed chords softly splay. On “Sleep Leaper” he builds a mass of multiple stops on the low end whilst furiously working reedy, high ponticello in delicate but ferocious play of grand gesture and teasing detail, a sound to behold. Fitting such a solo is dedicated to the painter Alan Davie, a longtime friend to several UK improvisers.

    It’s unfortunate that the duos don’t hold quite the same majesty, for Guy’s ability to find nearly every sonic nook on the bass is nothing if not a boon to conversation. But a spar for tenor and bass like “Flisk the Thrapple” finds most of the risks taken at lower decibel levels as Guy’s arco scrapes and contrasts of muted and colorful pizzicato encircle Gustafsson’s brutish squawk. By the last cut, the pair seems to have found common footing, morose baritone trudge and slap-tonguing mating with athletic bowing and flying horsehair. Settling into low, steely lines, one is reminded of the blackened snow of Peter Brötzmann’s 14 Love Poems (FMP, 1984), a romance of inscrutable grit. While hard-won and mostly at odds, Sinners is a worthwhile document of two of Europe’s most estimable improvisers.

  3. British bassist Barry Guy and Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson have played together numerous times and released albums ranging from duets (“Frogging”), trios (with Raymond strid), quartet (with Strid and Marilyn Crispell) and in Guy’s big band. Although Guy clearly comes from a more classical oriented approach to new music and free improv, and Gustafsson has a jazz background, they meet in the common region where instrumental skills and artistic vision meet to create unheard sounds, not as just an experimental gimmick but to tell deep and true musical stories, full of agony, intimacy, distress and friendship. This wonderful vinyl LP, which covers a performance of both musicians at St. Catherine’s Church in Vilnius, Lithuania in January of this year, is a brilliant testimony of how avant-garde can open new worlds of sound that evoke real deepfelt human emotions, that go back to primeval times while being entirely modern at the same time. The album starts with a short and soft, hesitating dialogue between sax and bass, then Gustafsson blows some of the most heart-piercing wails I’ve heard in a long time, crying his heart out, in full agony, only to calm down again to play some beautiful sweet tones as a wonderful contrast of different emotions all folded into one.

    The second track is a solo piece by Guy, a nice, almost bluesy improvisation, that unleashes all the inherent beauty that is the very nature of the bass’s deep wooden tones, playing gliding chords, arpeggios and single string phrases while maintaining the focus of the tune’s calm and resonating melody: sensitive and powerful. We’re now eleven minutes further and these two tracks are already worth the purchase of the album. The third improvisation is a duo again, full of nervous tension and distress, with little notes fluttering about, eliciting some shouts of concentrated effort, raising the interaction to an almost physical dialogue.

    The B side has two ten-minute improvisations, one with Guy solo on bass, one again a duet with Gustafsson. The first starts with Guy’s rapid alternating of arco and pizzi, scraping and plucking, getting so many different sounds out of his bass at any given time that you wonder how he does it. But again, the technique is by itself less relevant than the quality of the music, that switches from high intensity moments to more disciplined yet very dark and nervous sequences: an inhospitable universe he creates here, but one that is musically extremely attractive at the same time: raw, engulfing, overwhelming, pure. And Gustafsson joins this universe, fitting perfectly, with piercing screams alternated by deep brooding musings when Guy plays arco, moving to a close to silent intense dialogue in the middle part of the track, and when they turn up the intensity, both move as one, tearing your heart out in the process, figuratively and literally.

    Some moments of this album will please instantly, other parts may need repeated listens before you come to appreciate it. There is no beauty without harshness, there is no sensitivity without brutality, now purity without rawness, no reality without sharp edges. And that contrast, or that truthfulness makes this a great album. And sinners have a story to tell, a little more than saints.

    I have hesitated to give it a five star rate because it’s the second vinyl from vilnius in a row to get this high appreciation, but they repeat what AUM Fidelity did last year: produce some stellar music.

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