Chicago musicians David Daniell and Doug McCombs have teamed up for a beautiful new album on the Thrill Jockey label called Sycamore. This is the sound of two guitarists playing off each other, building lovely sonic sculptures. There are touches of jazz rhythm, some ambient texture and dramatic rock flourishes, but it’s really uncategorizable instrumental music. Daniell and McCombs played a CD release party Thursday (Sept. 24) at the Hideout, but unlike the typical CD release party, these guys weren’t just playing songs from their new album. The music seems to be part composed, part improvised, so what we heard Thursday night was one continuous performance without any pauses, featuring all three drummers on the album. John Herndon (who plays in Tortoise with McCombs) drummed during the opening part of the show, then Steven Hess sat down at a second drum kit. For a few minutes, Herndon and Hess played together, then Herndon got up and let Hess take over. A similar transition happened later when Frank Rosaly took over on drums. Each drummer brought his own style to the mix of sounds, as Daniell and McCombs dueted, interweaving the sounds of their two guitars.
Thrill Jockey is offering a free download of the Daniell-McCombs track “F# song.”
The opening act, Jack Rose, was well worth seeing in his own right, playing some very impressive solo acoustic guitar compositions. Rose plucked fast arpeggio chord patterns, but his songs were anchored by slower, more distinctive melodies, sometimes played on a single string. It made for some hypnotic listening.