Review: Stephen Vitiello With Brendan Canty – S/T

PLAYNEUTRAL.

These five pieces by Stephen Vitiello (guitar, modular synth, piano) and Brendan Canty (drums) are constantly toying with the notion of synchronicity. From a superficial perspective, Vitiello is seldom aligned with the repetitious clarity of Canty’s grooves: on “Piano 1” he rains haphazardly upon the beat like shards of mirror, while the bubbling layers on “Friday Guitar” encircle the tom drums with blissful disregard for their steady tempo. Yet their connection transcends simply landing on the same beats, instead pulling on the kindred cycles of landscape: the sweep of a lighthouse beam versus the heave of the tide, the clack of a wooden gate against the pulse of birdsong. As well as playfully indulging the tension of elements in disparate step, there’s a common clock uniting these two players that runs much deeper than surface-level simultaneity, founded somewhere in the triangulation of atmosphere, environment and enduring proximity.

As the record progresses, this more fundamental affinity starts to emerge and take precedence. The beats become looser – dismantling themselves, reforming at new tempos – while Vitiello’s input becomes more spacious, with guitars and electronics receding into silence before pulsing once again. It’s fascinating to track this trajectory, running from the vigorous rhythms of the album’s opening minutes to the fog of interference at its close. While Canty is virtually absent from the final stretch, it feels like Vitiello incorporates his presence into his concluding blanket of static and gently punctuated loops, collaborating with a version of Canty that resides outside of the present – apt for an album that so deftly points toward nonlinear alignments in time.