Flower/Corsano Duo - The Radiant Mirror (Textile Records LP)
About time I got a grip on this one, one which seemed to elude me for so long for whatever reason. Mick Flower: Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunburned Hand of the Man contributor. Chris Corsano: needs an introduction like he needs a hole in the head. Together, live, tonight, sold out! I heard this LP painted as an East versus West showdown, and while that may be true in theory, doesn't Corsano live in the U.K. now anyway? And besides, didn't these cats cross paths at least once before on the Qbico Bruxelles Festival 2LP when the VCO joined choir with the Flaherty/Corsano Duo? And surely they've even been a part of the same Sunburned configuration at some point in the past. Well all that may be true, but hearing them go tete-a-tete with no other meddlers afoot is a treat all the same, and I guess this is looking to be something of a regular unit with this record, a 7" on No-Fi, and past/present?/future dates together.
Three pieces span "The Radiant Mirror", and they're all element-repping: "Earth" and "Wind" split the A-side and "Fire" takes up all of the flip. I'll let you guess what hat Corsano's wearing for this set but I'll tell you that Mick Flower plays a Japan banjo or a shaahi baaja if you prefer, which I'm told is a kind of a dulcimer/string instrument but I'll have to go on hearsay alone because I've never seen one. Sonically speaking, it's like a thicker, messier sitar, or even something like a tambura crossed with an electric guitar when Flower puts his weight behind it, which he does so admirably on "Earth". Flower's banjo continually pushes tangled string haze aggression out into the wide open space where Corsano is quick to meet the vibrations half way and beat them back with lightning-quick rolls, dips, and jogs, sounding forever like a drummer playing like he's late for a bus (by far my favorite description of his frantic, frenetic style). I read some complaints about Corsano being mixed for too quietly in contrast to Flower's admittedly heady banjo work, but personally I like it right where it is with Corsano sounding like he's trying to battle his way through gobs of electrified raag spit. And I feel that I should state, as a disclaimer, that it was mixed by the performers themselves, so it's not like anyone's being slighted here no sir. Flower, for his part, posits wildly free supernovae all over the track with simple successive wrist flicks. On "Wind", the duo scrape close to various Theater of Eternal Music sessions, with Flower subbing for Cale's viola and Corsano mimicking MacLise's stoned tabla strikes. Clearly the more meditative of the three tracks/elements, it fades the side out with gently insistent, near-tribal rhythm and brain-clogging billows and dense string resonation.
"Fire" isn't the raging behemoth the title might lead you to believe, but it's no sleeping Suzie either. Flower's banjo sounds more like early morning rockets blasted from outside your bedroom window, and Corsano is quick to join in his ascent. Before you know it, the two are grappling one another in a heaven-bound tornado, knotting their limbs and instruments together until their respective scalps are sun-scorched. Later, Corsano breaks down into choppy, slicing movements that still somehow come out as fluid as all else before just about pulling back altogether, leaving Flower alone to shed white-hot sparks and sawdust all over the cutting room floor until Corsano slogs his way back into audibility and mops up the mess.
Lord knows these two like to move around a lot, but you wouldn't hear a peep out of me if these two decided to stagnate a while and just keep churning out records like this one. Sadly, the heartbreak here is that Textile founder Benoit Sonnette won't be able to hear any more fruits from their collaboration, as he passed away this January from cancer. Then again, considering the level at which these two go at it, if he keeps his ear to the floor wherever he is and listens close enough, he just may.