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Joel Harrison & Anthony Pirog - The Great Mirage (ASG Recordings)

14 March 2023

Pals due to the former’s renowned Alternative Guitar Summit, outsider guitarists Joel Harrison and Anthony Pirog have worked together for a few years now, and this is what their collaboration has led up to: The Great Mirage. Joined by bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Allison Miller, the duo pull from all over the six-string map: rock, country, blues, folk, and, most importantly, all different styles of jazz: fusion, chamber, postbop, free jazz. Funny thing is, they usually do it all at once, or at least rarely focus on one sound per song. That doesn’t mean that the pair doesn’t lean towards one approach or another per track – just that they don’t draw from only one style when they actually play. Thus “It Slipped Through My Fingers” blends laid back psych jazz with muscular proto-metal; the shimmering ballad “There’s Never Enough Time” incorporates folk as much as it does atmospherics; the noise-ridden title track gives its free playing a bluesy feel; the arid soundscape of “Desert Solitaire” absorbs gentle acid pop into its sun-scorched twang; the boogaloo of “East Hurley” interrupts its grooves with psychedelic wah-wah and rock drone. With Crump threatening to elbow his bosses aside, the pair applies a blasting skronk arrangement to Keith Jarrett’s “Mortgage On My Soul” that would likely make the tune unrecognizable to its composer, and conclude the album with a Crazy Horse-meets Bevis Frond stomp through “Buffalo Heart.” But they counter the chaos with the fingerpicked folk jazz of “Last Rose of Summer” and the ambient of “I’ll See You in the Shining World.” There’s clearly little ground Pirog and Harrison can’t cover, and they just as obviously have a good time doing it.