Jeff Snyder and Federico Ughi have been performing together for the better part of a decade. They’re both members of the Federico Ughi Quartet, Life Station and the Listening Group. This new recording is their first as a two-piece. The suitably titled Duo showcases both talents in a setting that deserves repeat performances.
Snyder plays a homemade analog synthesizer. His aggressive, sometimes combative style has a percussive quality that complements Ughi’s lively drumkit.
This is not to suggest that the two instruments form a perfect union. What makes Duo a great record is the way the acoustic and electronic performances often stand in contrast to one another.
We get this right off the top. “Useless Interposition” opens with a classic analog rhythm program, soon accompanied by one of Ughi’s most dynamic percussion efforts.
If you know nothing about the recording, the track hits you like a frantic noise puzzle. Could it really be just two players? Are all the beats acoustic? Is this jazz or something entirely new?
(The answers, by the way, are yes, no and entirely up to you.)
“Dancing at Two Weddings” is a telling song title. The two performances don’t so much as connect as they compete for the audience’s attention. That’s not a criticism.
It sets up a fascinating listening experience in which a pair of well-structured improvisations are presented side by side. Sometimes they relate, sometimes they don’t.
The album’s notes use phrases like “psychomusical connection” and “punk energy” which add to our understanding of intentions. But there is more to Snyder and Ughi’s debut as a two-piece.
This is a bravely discordant collection of new music. It is fun and exciting and entirely unhesitant. There’s also a good chance it’s like nothing else in your collection.