There is a kind of intimacy that comes across in great duo recordings. The limited instrumentation choices normally associated with small ensembles contributes to that of course. They set an intimate setting. Where vocals are a part of the work, a minimalist approach allows them to make a more prominent contribution.
But there’s something more to it. When two people make music together, they communicate their ideas as individuals, as a couple (romantic or otherwise), all the while connecting with an audience. This cannot be said of all duos. A lot of artists struggle to bring genuinely relatable feelings to the work. Only a select few can do that while at the same time sharing what it means to be together with someone.
This debut from Australians Claire Deak and Tony Dupé excels at this, remarkably without the benefit of minimal instrumentation. Over the course of the album’s 33 minutes, we’re treated to piano, accordion, harp, harpsichord, pump organ, pipe organ, recorder, flute, trumpet, euphonium, clarinet, stroh violin, viola, wulf fidel, cello, double bass, guitar, charango, mandolin, baritone ukulele, banjo, xylophone, glockenspiel, gamelan, drum and vocal performances.
Somehow, the result is uncluttered. Wonderfully so. That’s in part because these seven pieces are so gently paced. We’re able to appreciate the duo’s oversized palette without any sense of the work being too tightly packed.
The opportunity certainly presents itself. One way to appreciate this album is to tune in specifically to the various additions and subtractions of instruments that happen as each piece unfolds. But the old capital also works more simply as an expression of two talented artists’ view of what the world can sound like.
Heard that way, you get an organic, brightly coloured collection of acoustic think pieces. Not experiments; these are more fully formed than that. But sufficiently open to the listener’s interpretation as to be both a reflection of the artists and their audience.
Dupé has recorded two solo albums previously, under the name Saddleback.