Chris Schlarb & Chad Taylor
Time No Changes
Joyful Noise Recordings & BIG EGO Records
Chris Schlarb is a guitarist – 6 and 12 strings, acoustic and electric – and Chad Taylor is a drummer, also adding marimba and a few other percussion instruments. This duo set sits right in the middle of the wild late-60s recordings between guitarist Sandy Bull with drummer Billy Higgins and the late-90s work that Buckethead did with drummer Brain.
So I’m all over this since the work of Sandy Bull and Buckethead is some of my favourite instrumental guitar stuff. But maybe, if anything, it’s Taylor to listen out for especially here. He’s so thoughtful around creating space for Schlarb to lay the texture down and set up the framework. And his rich marimba interludes are compositions in and of themselves. His percussion is subtly dazzling (Creedmoor) and of course he’s a jazz drummer with runs on the board playing with a great range of players so when he does want to let loose and dip back into that world it’s all there (Sassafras).
Schlarb layers in some keyboards as well, though sparse. It’s mostly about the guitar and drums interacting.
I recently reviewed a duo record featuring Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt. In a way this is its sonic opposite, or the other side of the mirror. Where that was barely controlled chaos – but beautiful – this is meticulously crafted but still feels like it’s borne of improvisation.
The records are a nice 1-2.
But Time No Changes is fascinating in its depth – the title track makes up the majority of the album, appearing in two parts, first as album opener then re-arriving as centre-hinge. As the record starts the earthy tone of the acoustic guitar strums out melodica atmospheres for Taylor to tumble and spill about, filling the space just nicely. We’re in folk-raga territory and Taylor builds a very subtle samba-march beneath. There are hints of blues and jazz, certainly ,but it’s more like Billy McLaughlin’s worldly folk tunes, and, again, the influence of Bull.
When part two of Time No Changes enters, it’s sleigh bells laying the blanket and Schlarb picks in and around, in a way similar to some of James Blackshaw’s work. Again that samba-sway builds, this time with more of a swing to it. Eventually this tunes falls over into cosmic jazz and psychedelic folk.
Mother With Child is essentially a solo guitar piece – Zeppelin-y acoustic work, shades of Bert Jansch.
And then the closing Sassafras is very groove-dominant. It’s soulful and intoxicating. A record that really sweeps you up and away. I love it.