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Review

François Couture, AllMusic, October 24, 2006

Concentrés et amalgames is this duo’s second album for Ambiances Magnétiques (six years after Dérapages à cordes) and their third overall (Deuxième Acte came out in 2002 on Daniel Heïkalo’s own cottage label). This is hands down their best effort to date. Clearly, Arthur Bull and Daniel Heïkalo have kept on refining their musical relationship. The level of integration between Bull’s fragmented “serious” playing and Heïkalo’s much wilder side is higher than ever. The latter once again shifts between acoustic guitar and junkyard drums, with the percussives being heard on more tracks than on previous albums. On the guitar duet front, two pieces stand out: La solution de l’énigme and Tassez-vous donc. The first one may be the duo’s best piece released to date, with its tightly woven interplay, acute listening, subdued melodicism and relentless supply of ideas. The second one features Bull playing deconstructed blues licks on electric guitar while Heïkalo pulls all the stops on acoustic guitar, indulging in a rare and oh so effective display of virtuosity. The guitar/percussion pieces are generally a lot of fun, with Heïkalo hitting and clashing all around while Bull weaves oddly distant narratives. In that particular setting, the two men seem to willingly ignore one another, letting serendipity work things out by itself - and it works. Concentrés et amalgames is indeed a concentrate of what Bull and Heïkalo have been doing for years now, and the 11 short pieces included here have been carefully selected to showcase the duo at its most focused. A must-have for fans of Derek Bailey, Fred Frith or René Lussier.

A must-have for fans of Derek Bailey, Fred Frith or René Lussier.