Friday, April 1, 2022

Rob Clearfield & Quin Kirchner - Concentric Orbits (April 1, 2022 Astral Spirits)

Happy to announce the latest from Chicago-based percussionist Quin Kirchner, this time in an intimate duo setting with France-based pianist Rob Clearfield. Concentric Orbits is Clearfield & Kirchner's gorgeous debut recording as a duo, although they have a long history of playing together over the years in Chicago.

You will likely remember Clearfield from his standout playing on Kirchner's The Shadows and The Light (2020, Astral Spirits), and here on Concentric Orbits he takes a bit more of the foreground on the piano with Kirchner's solid, driving support moving the proceedings along.

The two sidelong tracks offer different sides of the duo; "Orbit 1" dives in with a insistent and repetitive left piano groove that eventually unfolds into a splattering of free improv that subsides. Cymbals, bells and more from Kirchner lead us through the second half of the track, with Clearfield continuing variations on the original ostinato through to the ending. "Orbit 2" jumps out immediately with a percussive attack complimented by Clearfield's prepared piano that mirrors the percussive sounds without overpowering. Kirchner's groove rides powerfully through the majority of the track, with some truly stirring playing from Clearfield on the second half.

It's worth noting that Concentric Orbits came out of the same sessions as Kirchner's The Shadows and The Light. Clearfield & Kirchner happened to find themselves at the session earlier than the other musicians and decided to roll tape. The loose "let's see what happens" vibe helps give focus to why Concentric Orbits is so beautiful and important without being self-important. Even though it may not have seemed as substantial as Kirchner's album at the time, it stands on equal footing as yet another beautiful document of these players growth and maturity.

"When we were recording The Shadows and The Light, it was tricky to coordinate because I had 8 other people on the session over a couple days and no one could be there the whole time. One of the reasons we were doing the session that week was because I knew Rob was going to be in town from France and I definitely wanted him to play on it. As it turned out, he and I were the only musicians able to be there first thing on the second day, so I suggested we just record some duo things. Without any planning we just dove in, and what you hear on this album are the first two pieces we played, in order. We also did a third one - I used my sampler and Rob switched to Wurlitzer - and what we made eventually became Batá Chop on Shadows, after adding Matt Ulery & Greg Ward. I originally thought I'd use excerpts of our improvisations as vignettes on the album, but after taking in all the material from our session, it became clearer to me and Rob that it was kind of great on its own and we ought to keep it that way. We're happy to finally be presenting it to you now." - Quin 

1. Orbit 1
2. Orbit 2
3. Orbit 1 (excerpt 1)
4. Orbit 1 (excerpt 2)
5. Orbit 1 (excerpt 3)
6. Orbit 1 (excerpt 4)
7. Orbit 2 (excerpt 1)
8. Orbit 2 (excerpt 2)
9. Orbit 2 (excerpt 3)

Rob Clearfield - Piano
Quin Kirchner - Percussion

Recorded at Decade Music Studios in Chicago 9/17/19
Engineered by Nick Broste & Brian Sulpizio
Mixed by Nick Broste at Shape Shoppe
Mastered by Mikey Young
Produced by Quin Kirchner

Artwork & Layout by Mason McFee