Fennesz + David Daniell
Empty Bottle; Thu 23
Austrian ambient mastermind Christian Fennesz has been a global laptop superstar for a decade, ever since the 2001 release of his landmark album Endless Summer. That record’s gorgeous shimmering may have taken its cue from the Beach Boys, but its brilliance came from how the guitarist synthesized a concept for a new generation of listeners, revealing deeper emotional layers through electronic means that were never at Brian Wilson’s disposal, though very much drawn from a similarly idiosyncratic pop-genius mind-set.
On the new Knoxville, Fennesz steps out of the studio and onto the stage, where the album was recorded at the 2009 Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. The show marked the first musical encounter between Fennesz and David Daniell, the Chicago-based guitarist, and drummer Tony Buck. While only 30 minutes long, the performance seems to contain a lifetime of transformations. Dreamlike evocations of idyllic dawns drift into dense, radiant starbursts in which drone, feedback and distant, trailing notes are sculpted into unpretentious psychedelia. What begins as a low-key improv conversation can evolve into the thunderously epic. (With Daniell sharing this bill, the two might hook up for a short improvised encore.)
Also impressive is Daniell’s other recent output, including Sycamore, his recent collaboration with Douglas McCombs of Tortoise. He’s got a deep commitment to making transcendent sound, so much so that he can willingly evaporate into the background. But he’s there, as sure as the rain.