Screaming harpies, preying mantises, and a needle drilling through the Earth's core? Sounds like metal to me! But what makes Jake Vossler and Aaron McLendon's guitar-drums duo opus Versus an incredible standout in the genre and beyond isn't its speed, brutality, or heaviness. It's the uncanny ESP on display, the immediacy of communication in improvisation, shared sense of imagination, and virtuosity not as instrumentalists, but as mind-readers.
Jake Vossler (guitar) and Aaron McLendon (drums) met early on in their college days and immediately found a deep rapport as a duo, exploring all sorts of conceptual improvisation concepts. Their facility and firepower as players made communicating as a team fluid, facile, and exciting, and after years of honing their approach decided to take it into the studio. They recorded this blistering sonic meditation in the summer of 2007, drawing inspiration from mythology, YouTube videos of insect fights, and pure concept and imagination.
I remember when Jake called me after their session, totally excited about what he and Aaron had created. He invited me over to check it out, and it was awesome. I remember being so blown away by the project, that I wanted to try my own experiments with recording purely improvised music. It was a milestone for me as a musician - to hear my friends create something so burning from just imagination and improvisation was a revelation for me at the time. It was the same summer I discovered John Coltrane's Interstellar Space duo with Rashied Ali, and the concept was literally blowing my mind. A lot changed that year.
But somehow, this record never saw the light of day. Last year, in the early part of 2015, I was hanging with Jake and asked about it: "Whatever happened to that duo record with Aaron?" He told me simply, "Well, it's just been sitting on this hard drive." There were a variety of factors that contributed to not releasing it back then, but ultimately, it had sort of faded into memory, and probably would have never been released. So, I jumped at the chance to offer to mix it and release it on Orenda Records. If for no other reason than this record was important to me.
And today, I'm so proud to release this incredible music as a limited edition vinyl. It's music that will leave you wide-eyed, jaw-dropped, and pinned to the back of your chair. It's music that explodes past genre into a space of pure communication. It's scary, intimate, and ground-shaking, and you need it in your life! And I'm simply so happy that this music didn't fade away into history, and exists on wax for all us to hear.
—Daniel Rosenboom, February 19, 2016
Jake Vossler & Aaron McLendon also appear on
ORENDA 0030 - Burning Ghosts | Burning Ghosts (Jake Vossler, Aaron McLendon)
ORENDA 0027 - Book of Storms | Daniel Rosenboom (Jake Vossler)
ORENDA 0011 - Clean Numbers & Dirty Words | The Matthew Yeakley Group (Aaron McLendon)