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Bill Rieflin & Chris Connely, "Largo"

Bill Rieflin and Chris Connelly have been friends and collaborators for nearly 15 years beginning with Revolting Cocks/Ministry albums, tours and side projects. "Largo" is the 15th album they've appeared on together, a series of 'writing experiments' literally a decade in the making and finally recorded this past year. The stark b/w cover photo of the pairs' stern faced floating heads gives a good indication of the slow and quiet, minimalist aesthetic of the music. Most of the 13 tracks are centered around Connelly's voice and guitar and Rieflin's piano then further embellished with drum machine, keyboards, basses (Fred Chalenor) and strings (Caroline Lavelle and members of The Alexandria Quartet). The title track is the lengthiest at near 8 minutes and immediately sets the tone with spacious chords and lovely melodies intermittently set to metronome. "Pray'r" is more compact with an aching vocal, steady guitar strums and bass groove, flirtatious keys and a simple rhythm. "Strayed" and "Salt of Joy" update past solo Connelly album songs, the former with an additional verse and double bass, the latter with a newly penned call and response vocal. "Close Watch" and "Sea Song" are strong, reverent and fitting covers, John Cale and Robert Wyatt respectively. "Wake" is a poem in 3 brief parts: the first a cute lullaby, the second a more straightforward vocal and piano exercise and the third a barrage of rapid piano notes and melodramatic singing. "Rondo" is a wonderfully light and breezy, cinematic instrumental theme. "The Call Girls" features the most abstract poetry and an elegant swan diving cello part by Lavelle. "Prayer" serves as a solo piano bridge to "Y", a song devoid of repeating parts and with Connelly's voice reaching it's highest possible register. Altogether "Largo" is a beautiful piece of work, powerful in it's genuine emotional honesty and intensity rather than instrumentation and volume overkill. The composition is tastefully spare throughout and the mood varies from outright somber to fun. This is a crowning jewel in both mens' careers and I'm certain it will be in my top 10 of 2001 list. The duo plan on touring later this year, piano in tow .