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  • Nathan Yoder

Album Preview - Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - In a Word

For RVNG Intl.'s 16th volume in their FRKWYS series, in which they invite two musicians of different generations to collaborate, the Brooklyn-based institution chose a couple of all-stars. Over four decades, postminimal pianist Daniel Lentz has composed music for diverse ensembles, but also crafted his own slowly-unfolding solo works. Canadian sound artist Ian William Craig is known for his distinctive, classically-trained vocal performances, but also his homemade technologies and uniquely manipulated instruments used in his music. Together, the pair met up in Santa Barbara to create In a Word - the product of mutual curiosity, spontaneous improvisation, and ultimately, sonic camaraderie.


Erosion is a popular theme in music these days, and on In a Word, the two collaborators continue this trend. Lentz seems to carry the melodies on most songs via piano, while Craig adds vocals before filtering it all through his faulty machines. But the final product feels far from saturated, in fact, silence plays a rather prominent role on In a Word. Empty space is found on most tracks, perhaps a characteristic of Lentz's musical leanings, and when sound is interrupted by minor chord progressions and ethereal vocals, the music takes on an almost spectral tone. Like echoes rattling inside an abandoned building, it can feel unsettling. And yet, there are moments of warmth. Take, for instance, A Pair of Pears and the closing track, Poire. Both feel like the temperate California sun beaming down from above. So there is absolutely variation, and if I had to venture a guess about Santa Barbara's agricultural output: pears in abundance. Overall, Craig and Lentz work beautifully as a pair (get it?), allowing each other to play to strengths, while also creating something entirely new. In a Word is out this Friday, can be purchased through this link, and you can preview a track below.