Review: Burnt Dot – Constant Ballet

artworks-000220364975-vvza8i-t500x500As it turns out, synthesiser and brass don’t agree on everything. This cassette documents a long-form conversation between the two instruments, attempting to reconcile their differences through a process of fiery spat, mimicry, head-on collision, harmonic complement and alternating stretches of solo and silent scrutiny. The most beautiful aspect of Constant Ballet is Burnt Dot’s faith in the fact that this duet – smeared across the full breadth of stereo space, backlit by a gentle room echo – is dynamic enough to not require any accompaniment. Like a film that keeps a fixed location to accentuate the every-changing nuances of a small handful of characters, Constant Ballet places micro-actions upon a plinth of pure silence, heightening my focus on every likeness, every kiss, every garish disparity.

The instruments align in the most unexpected ways. When the synthesiser unfurls into a squelchy rip of noise, I hear the electronic equivalent of spittle pushed through teeth; elsewhere it plummets into raspberries of low throb and launches into injured whimpers, as the trumpet responds through squeals of distress or laughter-like blasts of pure tone, either empathetically appropriate or antagonistically discordant (like an argument between lovers, the collaborations flits between irrepressible frustration and that oft-emergent undercurrent of adoring respect). It feels as though the microphones have been placed inside the trumpet, capturing the clack of the tongue or the pop of fingers tapping idly against the keys, as responsive to the inflections of breath and spit as to the resonance of the notes themselves. Of course, this sort of detail is crucial to a record like this. In order for this ballet to sustain itself over the course of 40 minutes, I need to be able to register every side-glance and mouth-corner-twitch, deducing the truth from how the intricacies of instinct compliment or betray the presentation of larger gestures.