I’m not sure I can name two people who are on better runs than Patrick Shiroishi and Luke Stewart, so seeing the two team up for a split makes sense. Each presents a side long piece that seamlessly complement one another, making the case for the two to collaborate as a duo some day. I can hope, anyway.
Shiroishi’s offering, “Staying Human” (what a great title) was recorded in an empty parking garage and the interplay with the natural reverb of that environment is entrancing. Atmospheric sounds like distant dripping water and echoing footsteps add an air of fragility. Shiroishi is a cerebral player that gets into these dynamic flows where everything feels possible. He knows when to push on and blow your head apart, but more importantly knows when to let notes breathe and when to take it slow. “Staying Human” is expert-level stuff, inviting and transcendent in the way it’s surprisingly accessible but still deeply challenging. There’s a particular moment, about halfway through where these melodic runs descent into crunching, resonant skronk. It all happens in a small amount of space, but the aggressive shift takes your breath away. Overall, it’s one of my favorite pieces of his in recent memory.
On the flip, Luke Stewart continues his streak of absolute belters with “Works for Pioneer Works.” Stewart’s pieces for bass and feedback always hit the spot (if you haven’t already heard his first Astral Spirits release, fix that now). The connection with Shiroishi’s side comes in the way that Stewart uses the physical space where this was recorded almost as an improvising partner. Sounds clang and echo as it sounds like he’s performing complex surgery on his bass before diving into thick, heady drones. There’s a point when feedback comes to the forefront, though it’s never overpowering or painful to listen to, but the way Stewart is plodding and churning underneath is the sound of an engine room humming to life. I can’t get enough of this.
Two expansive sides from two incredible musicians – it doesn’t get much better than that. Seriously, though, I hope these two collaborate some day down the road because their styles and approach would fit well together and it’s hard not to imagine a shared language being developed.