Their music is not simply jazz played on rather inhospitable instruments, however. What steers it back in the bluegrass direction is all the wood and wire of the instruments involved. Percussion has a very limited role, and the focus instead is on string textures, with the basic violin and mandolin modified and retuned and extended in various ways Anger plays the rare baritone violin, and the final track on Woodshop, "The Creep," credits something called an "Electro-Banjo Creepola," which is as weird as it sounds. On Woodshop, the two players are multitracked ("Replaceitall" has no fewer than seven violin parts along with a baritone violin rhythm track) to form a small, intensively varied, mostly acoustic two-man orchestra.
The booklet for the album notes that the works they have created for this orchestra roughly half the music is written by each collaborator, with the composer taking the lead musically "would be difficult to perform live." But Anger and Marshall will attempt to do just that at the Ark on Sunday, September 30, and with musicians this talented, you just know that part of the fun will be in hearing how they reduce their complex creations to a live show.
[Review published September 2007]