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Eyal Maoz & Asaf Sirkis - Elementary Dialogues

John Coleman, this – a literary webzine

The fact that Eyal Maoz and Asaf Sirkis were childhood friends, growing up and attending school together in Rehovot, Israel, makes their musical careers all the more interesting. Maoz, a jazz guitarist, left Israel for a musical career in NYC, where he now leads such musical ensembles as Edom, Dimyon, Crazy Slavic Band, and co-leads Hypercolor and Manganon. Sirkis settled across the pond in London, England, after establishing a name for himself as a drummer in Israel during the 1990s. He now leads two ensembles, The Asaf Sirkis Trio and The Inner Noise, and has collaborated with numerous artists such as Harold Rubin, John Williams, and Nick Homes.

After banding around and making names for themselves in their respective cities, Maoz and Sirkis reunite on 2009′s Ayler Records release, Elementary Dialogues. What a force they have concocted! Relying on traditional instrumental jazz formulae of lead trading and intuition fuelled improv, the record fuses blues, jazz and rock styles for a unique picture of avant-garde experimentation.

“Regae” opens Elementary Dialogues with a twangy, fairly conservative blues melody. The simplistic, smile inducing tune effectively sets the plain for Eyal’s clean guitar side, which guides him through tell-tale jazz unconventionality on the album. However, the safe, mood-setting album opener contrasts the feverish intensity found on the rest of the record.

To be blunt, after “Regae” simplicity vanishes from Elementary Dialogues. Second track “Foglah” dawns Maoz’s distinct experimental sound which frequently pushes toward a distorted noise sound. Reminiscent of the Electric Mud style, Maoz unleashes his raw talent by playing with feedback and wah effects, at times calling in shades of Hendrix-esque tone manipulation.

The rest of the record follows the same lines as “Foglah,” throwing the rule book aside for a highly experimental avant-garde sound. For example, “Sparse” is backgrounded with a fiddlish tremolo effect and Sirkis’s chattering ride cymbal. Atop the electric, yet lounge-ish noise, Maoz breaks the tension with drawn out, distorted blues leads.

“Miniature” splits the record with contrast by slowing tempo. Maoz’s clean guitar saunters around a humble melody while Sirkis rides his snare with soothing brush strokes. “Kashmir” displays the duo’s inimitable approach perfectly with more clean guitar licks from Maoz, and Sirkis’s unrequited love for clacking the rims on his kit. Other notable mentions for fusion lovers include “Jewish Loop,” “Strip,” and “OK,” which incorporate note bending and muddy distortion effects from Maoz and stark impressive improvisation from both duo members.

Maoz and Sirkis trade parts like a couple of prohibition era trailblazers on Elementary Dialogues, each respectively stepping aside to allow their partner to solo around for a bit, and then jumping back into the spotlight for the next burst of energy. The pair blends numerous styles into a melting pot of innovative technicality. From its originality and array of techniques, this record will impress avid contemporary jazz followers, and even the average listener bored with the radio.