David Daniell and Douglas McCombs

In 2009, David Daniell (San Agustin, Antiopic) and Douglas McCombs (Tortoise, Eleventh Dream Day, Brokeback) released their first collaborative album, Sycamore. The album moved gracefully between moments of dark, meandering streams of sound to explosive sections of dissonance and prickly rhythms, a testament to the cross-fading/mixing talents of Daniell and McCombs who culled the music from seven hours of improvisation. The shape of the album was as dependent on the studio as on the musicking itself.

Three years later and Daniell and McCombs are back with a new album, Versions. But calling this simply a Daniell and McCombs release doesn’t feel quite right: the six tracks that comprise the album are taken from the same seven-hour improv session that produced Sycamore, only this time, recording engineer/producer/ex-Tortoise member Ken Brown was asked to craft his own album out of the session. Versions — a title made in reference to the improv session, rather than the actual first album — becomes a clear reflection of Brown’s aesthetic, which here places considerable emphasis on dynamics.

But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from hearing “30265” divorced from the album context. The track, coming in at just over six and a half minutes, sounds like an in-between moment in the best way: fluid and serene, yet lacking dynamics and an overriding structure. The song becomes dependent less on its storytelling abilities and more on its aesthetic cohesion, its spatial qualities, its tonal colors. Timothy Leeds’ video for the track is a fantastic visual complement too, providing the same punctuated randomness that the music so gorgeously evokes, atop a slow-motion unraveling that turns out to be warmly infinite.

Look for David Daniell, Douglas McCombs, and Ken Brown’s Versions May 15 on Thrill Jockey.

• David Daniell: http://www.daviddaniell.com
• San Agustin: http://www.san-agustin.org
• Antiopic: http://www.antiopic.com
• Tortoise: http://www.trts.com
• Brokeback: http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/Brokeback
• Thrill Jockey: http://www.thrilljockey.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.