Fred Frith & Henry Kaiser Friends & Enemies

Spanning twenty years of intermittent collaborations, this twofer documents at least three distinct phases of evolution in an inventive and irreverent guitar duo. While With Friends Like These (1979) will enthral purists with a series of free improvisations that confirm the crucial influence of Derek Bailey, the skewed riff and oddball time signatures of the opening “It Moves” has much more in common with Beefheart’s Magic Band. That influence grows more pronounced in Who Needs Enemies (1983) and previously unissued concert recordings (1984), a period when both players explored fresh technologies, hence the pervasive use of drum machines that add a dated and cheesy appeal. The 1999 collaborations sound as though the artists can now enjoy the best of both worlds, combining advances in technology with the comparative purity and beauty of their initial Bailey-inspired collaborations. Two and a half hours of essential guitar music distilled from a collaboration of 20years. A gem! (Cuneiform)