I've been quite entranced with the past work of this duo and am always looking forward to more, that's a given. The Book of Crossings, however, is fleshing out new wrinkles in the work of Kevin Kastning and Sándor Szabó, guitarists decidedly forever in rare form. The initial cut here, Vorspiel even embeds a sense of playfulness not all that apparent in the back catalogue, a vivacity that lifts the prevalently somber, albeit eternally exploratory, refrains up into a new level. Then Narthex jangles the ears with abstract wafts shining in profoundly lustrous cross beams of light and shadow, and we recall what it was that hypnotized our oh-so-willing ears in the first place.
To Carthage Then I Came might be best indication of the more clearly narrative structure of a lot of Crossings, possessing a very distinct foreground in the opening quotation but one that submerges, re-emerges, and goes through many shifts of emphasis. Too, with 21 chapters to this 72-minute 'book', many many transitions occur, and Intarsia I is a segue to the darker and more exotic Second Transversal, inhabited by staccato plectrum and definedly angular arabesques, everything thence to the initially pacific Verax, which slowly twists within itself.
For this release, a total of 8 different guitars was employed as well as piano (highly unusual for Kevin), e-bow (just as singular), and Szabó's use of a guzheng (Chinese zither). Strikingly, while Kastning employs the e-bow in Carthage, Szabó wields his 16-string as though it were a combination of guzheng and koto (you'll detect the true guzheng's distinctive tones elsewhere). The perennial Towner/Abercrombie milieu is omnipresent in these cats, thank God, but so is Kastning's love of classical structures ancient and modern, so while the duo's work remains indefinable, it nonetheless possesses an abundance of reference points. You just have to take them all from Mars, Jupiter, or Piranesi. If that's disturbing, then just back slowly away from your computer and turn on reruns of Hawaii Five-O instead, but if it's the sort of surreal immersion you know you desperately need lest you go mad on this monkeyhouse Earth………then why the hell are you wasting time reading my review???
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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