Flower-Corsano Duo – The Halcyon

4 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Flower-Corsano Duo (recorded by)

Drums and guitar. Or… drums and Japanese Banjo, which kinda sounds like a sitar run through purple haze, and is glorious.

Beyond the opening blast of the duo’s 2009 effort, that album was a bit polarizing to me, as the tracks didn’t build like two skilled players reacting to one another, moreso just hitting GO and playing until they hit a wall, whether that wall was made of brick or pillows.

The Halcyon has elements of that on its B-side, as well as some normal improv hitches on the A-side of not quite knowing when to call it quits, but this is, overall, a much more engaging release, and something worthy or multiple spins to get the full impression of its 40-minute, 2-track run.

I’d say the tracks are purposeful inverses of one another, going from wandering to insane on A’s “The River That Turned Into A Raging Fire,” and loud to quiet on B’s “The Ship That Sailed On Dry Land,” both accurately named in that regard. But River comes out as the absolute winner, as guitarist Flower and drummer Corsano trade off feeding off of one another as the song builds and builds and builds to multiple epic rock-outs… though, as mentioned, can’t quite successfully peter out at the end, maybe going on for a few extra minutes than necessary.

Still that’s a wise lead-in to B, as Ship is kind of a mess at the start, Corsano going all in while Flower is more laid back, and though this is interesting, it ends up feeling like the latter is just waiting for the former to calm down… and once he does, the track takes shape and becomes very intimate, and soothing, filling the B-side with calm percussion rolls and waves of tapped banjo, leading to a very effective conclusion for the whole experience.

Despite the unevenness of their previous release, I was really excited for this followup, and I’d say the wait was worth it: While Flower-Corsano still play at odds to one another on occasion, they sync up way more often than not on The Halcyon, and the Japanese Banjo plus the duo’s abilities make for a unique sound in the loud-ass instrumental improv space.