Architeuthis Better Not Step on My Lawn

Architeuthis Walks on LandNatura Naturans (Carrier, 2010)

The CD gives no indication that you’re listening to and Amy Cimini on viola and Katherine Young on bassoon. Maybe the idea is to absorb their identities into the duo, to force you to think of the music as coming from a single entity, a single mind.

Maybe I just overthink these things.

Those who’ve heard Young’s solo bassoon album, Further Secret Origins (Porter, 2009), won’t be surprised at Moment One of this album, when a buzzing, throbbing bassoon sound drops into the scene, followed shortly by scribbly, scratchy viola bowing. Young pumps away at one tone, then another, in a jumpy Morse code, while Cimini works the viola through aggressive gestures thick with glissando.

The music is organic, with the two instruments played acoustically, no effects. It sounds mostly improvised, with all the dynamism that the label implies. Some tracks linger on one trick or formation for a while, like the upward duet squeaking on “Glitterbird,” but the sound is full of variations and pulse.  Young’s Origins relied on dronelike states, with the bassoon adding pockmarks that added up to a feeling of activity and motion. The same process is hinted at here, but Cimini’s viola is more wild. The two together create a vivid sense of color.

One composed-sounding passage shows up on “The Field,” when Young and Cimini drop out of a really interesting, bubbling improv and tiptoe into a careful melody. As the composed line starts to unravel, Young sticks to airy tones of concentration, while Cimini plucks strings in a spare but  quickening cadenza.

The bassoon’s dronelike scraping takes over on “Surgeon of Fades,” providing a stucco backdrop to some pulsing, downcast viola playing. That one ends with some nifty, high-register viola sawing with a simultaneously plucked lower string — which sounds really music-techno-geeky, but it’s a neat effect.