Kudos to Matt Borghi and Michael Teager. Having locked down their “jambient” style of blending processed guitar sounds with sax and flute on two excellent releases (Convocation and the live recording Awaken the Electric Air), they opted to change it up a bit on their third release, Shades of Bending Light. The shift is slight, but it’s both noticeable and effective. In essence, it was time to bring Matt and his guitar out of the mist a little and up the jazz ante a touch. I spoke with Matt at their show at the Gatherings in Philadelphia in October 2014, where he was kind enough to hand me a copy of the album, and he explained that Shades… is an edited presentation of three fruitful hours of he and Michael just jamming away. The sections he pulled out to present are like a lesson in musical chemistry, filled with sinewy lines curling around one another, everything coated in warm washes, thoughtful moments of pause that suddenly burst into riff-based life before settling back down to an easy calm. In some tracks, like “Daisy Chain,” Borghi’s work is right at the forefront, picking complex lines over the washes, bending the neck to wring a little more emphasis out of the notes. There’s a great improv feel to it that lets us take the ride with him as he finds the next right step. “Weird Minor” finds him laying crisp angles constructed of sharply plucked notes, almost like a koto, over the fluid figures coming from the sax. Listen for the way Borghi mixes these down to make them take a mildly wayward little stroll back and forth in your ears. In other places, his playing can be subtle, like the repeating up-and-down, two-note bass line that runs under Teager (sounding for all the world like he’s playing an out-take from Dark Side of the Moon) on the title track. Or the dialed-down noodling that flits and flutters in the background of “Joyce’s Fanfare,” where it takes on a textural role. While Borghi has come forward on Shades…, Teager stays right where he’s been from the start, up front and flying, coursing easily from smooth and sensual lines to fiery jazz licks. Once again, this duo deals up some serious listening. It’s a perfect end-of-day disc, here to help take the edge off. Slip on the headphones to take in the excellent detail work.
The third time is yet another charm for Borghi and Teager. Shades of Bending Light has managed to improve on what was already pretty amazing.
Available from the Borghi|Teager site.