Jim White’s name has become the musical equivalent of those Heart Foundation food endorsements: if you see it on a record, you know the music will warm your ears. From Dirty Three to Marianne Faithfull toXylouris White, the drummer’s range of sonic adventuring has been wide, and this project with guitarist Marisa Anderson – the result of a tour she shared with Xylouris White – certainly doesn’t narrow it. They leapt into a few studios along the tour route, and The Quickening emerged as a series of improvisations flying far above and beyond beyond categorisation.
They can be dense, pointillistic and electric, or sparse, melodic and acoustic, and anywhere in between, with the commonalities being tightly-knit interaction and a thrilling sense of evocation. Anderson’s Marc Ribot-like conceptual openness allows the pair to create dialogues in which the drums can play a melodic role as well as textural, rhythmic and dramatic ones. Last Days sounds like the incidental music from a gritty western, while the title track is a labyrinth of nylon-string arpeggios and softly bustling drums. Yet each vignette does not just have its own sound-world, it tells its own story, too.