Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker

Little Common Twist

BY Josiah NelsonPublished Nov 5, 2019

After two improvisational sessions together, free jazz drummer Charles Rumback and proficient folk artist Ryley Walker released an instrumental album together titled Cannots in 2016. Rugged and raw, tense and frenetic, Walker's freewheeling guitar and Rumback's kinetic drumming painted pictures of a vaguely sinister, lawless world — the sort where settle your own scores.
On their sophomore record, Little Common Twist, the Illinois natives seem contemplative, imbibing a posture of serenity that's compatible with urgency, but not with anxiety.
Rumback's drumming is sometimes fizzy, sometimes rolling, sometimes crashing, but it's almost always measured. Walker's guitar hums and rings masterfully, sometimes singing in pitched harmonics, and sometimes diffusing itself so thinly it sounds like a synth.
On "Self Blind Sun," Rumback rustles his cymbals and plays some sandy, abrupt fills. Walker's guitar, stunned, improvises a mournful, harmonic-laced number; the two stay in tension the whole track and only find friendship in silence.
Walker's guitar on "Menebhi" is deconstructed into a shimmering gauzy synth that hovers above some primordial haze as Rumback's dotting electronic drum imbues it with a sense of mystery.
On Little Common Twist Rumback and Walker play delicately and intricately; Rumback's drums seems to gently propel the songs into the glowing ether, while Walker's guitar helps them glide through the air. Their sound is hypnotic and abstract, as though they're disassembling and reassembling songs and sounds as they go — and the result is a quietly, dreamily thrilling listening experience.
(Thrill Jockey)

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