Eyal Maoz & Asaf Sirkis - Elementary Dialogues

Stephen Griffith, Paris Transatlantic

If you're planning to record a duet it's advisable to pair with someone you can depend on. Guitarist Eyal Maoz has wide-ranging musical associations including two Tzadik recordings leading the group Edom as well as sporadic appearances with John Zorn's Cobra; but for this January 2006 project he turned to his hometown friend from Israel, drummer Asaf Sirkis. Sirkis, who contributes the composition "Miniature", which he previously recorded on his trio album The Song Within, provides innovative rhythmic backing to complement Maoz's at times prodigiously raucous yet unfailingly tasteful technique.
The eleven compositions range from two to six minutes and never overstay their welcome. The disc initially captures the listener's interest with the deceptively easy-going "Reggae", which starts with a relaxed beat and infectious melody as a springboard for musical explosions that might be considered flashy if they weren't so effectively incorporated into the song. Maoz's other compositions are more intricate, such as the somber "Duo" (very Masada-inspired) and "Sparse", which features an underpinning jangly guitar drone rife with tension that separates rapid-fire flurries of release. Interestingly, Sirkis's "Miniature" is the most percussively understated selection, with brushes providing delicate touches. Although Maoz composed the remaining ten songs, they're very much collaborative performances. A most satisfying recording with significant cross-genre appeal that's easy to recommend.