Agitated Atmosphere: Flower-Corsano Duo - The Four Aims

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once-obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Flower-Corsano Duo.

Michael Flower (Vibracathedral Orchestra, Sunburned Hand of the Man) may well be the voice of a new guitar-driven generation. There’s no doubt about the prowess and power of Chris Corsano behind a set of drums. The frenetic duo conjures up a new djinn archetype with The Four Aims, their latest for CD/LP for VHF.

Flower-Corsano Duo - I, Brute Force

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There were rarely meeting points between folk ragas and avant jazz as both genres carved their knotholes into the petrified monstrosity known as music. There were times when you’d catch John McLaughlin or Max Roach mingling in a myriad of sounds but never would you catch them in a duo flirting with multiple genres, only to pervert those sounds into something wholly new and yet strangely familiar. That chore was left to youthful minds and carefree hands.

Those agile appendages, of course, belong to the likes of Michael Flower and Chris Corsano. Flower may seem a sturdy boulder in a furious stream of experimentation -- concentrating his nimble fingers on churning out a tried and tested brand of psychedelic-laced folk amidst a river of experimental rockā€”but Flower has never shied away from expanding his repertoire and exploring his craft. Corsano may be best known for working on Bjork’s last album, Volta, and playing a few shows with the mythical being known as Jandek. However, Corsano isn’t a stranger to taking musical tangents, whether through his own solo albums or working alongside Ben Chasny, Paul Flaherty, or C. Spencer Yeh. The truth is Flower and Corsano aren’t following the paths of old, instead each are blazing their own trail with the standard-bearers as a compass.

The Four Aims is an onslaught of concentrated genre bending. Flower is careful to keep the metaphorical stream moving in one swift direction as Corsano provides the many forks in the riverbed, looking to take the water to destinations unseen. Look no further than the album opener, “I, Brute Force” to find the mission statement of the time-tested duo. With steely strings swiftly plucked while skins and cymbals are determinedly pounded, there is no better name than the one given. Over the course of 10 minutes, the track never bogs itself in a muddy delta or idly watches as the river is swallow by the vast ocean -- rather it’s perfectly contained bursts of energy like the fiercest rapids and the whitest water ever seen by the eyes of man.

The duo confidently flits outside their comfort zone with trips to the Middle East and the Mediterranean on “The Drifter’s Miracles” and “The Beginning of the End.” Corsano’s frenzied drumming becomes quiet and careful accents throughout “The Drifter’s Miracles,” complimenting Flower’s bowed guitar. “The Beginning of the End” is a machine gun of snares and toms, as if Flower and Corsano were dashing themselves into the dead heads and rocks of their own Styx before the spasms slow down into calm respites of sitar-laced folk and heavenly chimes and cymbal splashes.

While many metaphors could be mined to explain the dynamic between Michael Flower and Chris Corsano, they all fail to explain just how enormous the scope of sounds the duo encompass. It’s when you realize how obtuse the labels ‘folk’ and ‘jazz’ truly are that you begin to see just how talented Flower and Corsano are at creating their own sub-genres out of the opaque.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog.

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