|"You Should Have Seen Me Before We First Met" comprises two tracks recorded live in Geneva and Oslo. It is over three years since the debut "Visiting Ants" (SOFA 502) and the duo's music has changed a lot. Now they focus more on time and development, and the highly personal sonic landscapes are more economical in terms of musical density.
The two long tracks that comprise this disc were recorded more than 5 months apart, at concerts in Geneva and Oslo in 2003. Compared to their first release on Sofa in 2000, the playing here is much more indirect, allowing listeners the chance to discern the discreet connection between the musicians for themselves. Eschewing decipherable interactions, the duo concentrates on the movement of the whole sonic field, pairing Grydeland's plucky strums on acoustic and electric guitars with Zach's long-shimmering cymbal vibrations. Zach's percussion requires some elaboration, for I can't pick out one definitive drumstick thwack on the entire record: it sounds like he's taken lessons out of the Keith Rowe Manual of Small Vibrating Musical Machines, and applied the techniques to percussion rather than guitar. Extensive whirring and droning - thanks also to the Sruti box he employs - typify his approach throughout; yet, he's able to generate and differentiate enough sonorities and rhythmic patterns to challenge any notion of monotony. His ultra-clacky vibrations during the fourth minute of the first cut - imagine a pencil rolling at warpspeed down a desktop - temper the solemnity of Grydeland's gentle guitar thrumbs. The percussion is less striking than throbbing, like hitting the underside of a dumbek in rhythm to a drip. In the second track Zach delivers ambiguous scrummaging and big ringing, but it's more like the ringing of bells instead of cymbals. Grydeland maintains an assured poise throughout the album, letting chords echo faintly, and relying on his own sense of rhythmic development. A sophisticated new direction for this young duo.