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David Daniell & Douglas McCombs – Versions (Thrill Jockey)

10 May 2012

Versions, the second collaborative LP from experimental guitarist David Daniell and Tortoise member Doug McCombs, is actually culled from the same 7 hours of music that spawned the first, Sycamore. While the duo picked out their own favorite moments to craft their first record, former Tortoise compadre Ken Brown was charged with assembling a double LP from the material. While choosing bits that are largely varied compared to what ended up on Sycamore, he has mined some real gems. The highlights are the more diverse and sprawling, epic tracks. “Burn After Reading,” is a pleasantly droning track that seamlessly sweeps from fuzz to flamenco with some excellent jungle drums. After 7 minutes, the track blasts off into outer space, where desolation takes hold. “Ley Lines,” starts with the guitars functioning as a tinny, eclectic string section until mostly giving way to some jazzy beats. The guitars get palm muted and nimbly picked in a nifty prog duet, ending in delay.

The second LP, and final two pieces, of Versions are two of the gents’ favorite live recordings together, titled simply after the place and date of the performances. They are slow starters with steady builds. The Montreal cut ends the album on its highest note. The performance itself resembles “Burn After Reading,” with its Tom Verlaine picking and the ominous background. The crescendo it builds to is truly something to behold. It’s the kind of bombastic moment that post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky regularly shoot for but, when juxtaposed with so much restraint, it provides a wonderful climactic counterpoint for the rest of the record.