The collaboration between Danish musicians Martin Rude and Jakob Skøtt has proven to be most fruitful. The mixture of Rude’s open guitar tunings and double bass with Skøtt’s fluid drumming and ethereal synths and electronics gave their debut LP The Discipline of Assent an epic, galactic jazz western feel. A soundtrack to some retro-futuristic Leone film that only exists in the strangest of fever dreams. It truly was one of the more exciting musical trips I’d taken this year.
Fortunately for us the collaboration didn’t stop at one full-length. The duo recorded enough material for two LPs, the second of which is here now. The Dichotomy Of Control is an exquisite shot of mysterious acoustic jangle and spaced-out synth sonics. With this new set of forward-thinking tracks there’s a much more free-flowing jazz feel. It’s as if Gateway locked into Arabic folk music and then injected some Sun Ra magic in for good measure. The resulting LP is a groovefest for deep space travel and desert vision quests.
This album has pretty much floored me. There are moments of great mystery here, while also showing more emotional heft than on their first LP. I find myself drifting when I hit play. Visions of orange horizons, gritty sand blowing in waves, and scalding sun leaving no escape from its heat. A caravan of ancient souls accompanied by this organic orchestra of two.
“Ode to Sadiq” opens this set with a Middle Eastern flair as the double bass and drums lock into a tight groove. Interstellar vibes come in and out via Skøtt’s hazy electronics and production. This puts me in mind of the score work Ludwig Göransson has created for The Mandalorian, but with a fusion flair. “Memory Tree” has a big sky vibe, touching on the work of William Tyler and Ry Cooder’s work in Paris, Texas. This is truly some stunning guitar work, with the percussion keeping back just enough that you can feel its fluid accompaniment.
One of the songs that grabbed me most viscerally is the melancholy splash of “Shadowland”. Rude has an almost Nels Cline feel in his playing, which is open tuned acoustic guitar. Trickling synth notes give the song a floating quality, as if they’re performing the song on the surface of the moon. It’s southwestern jangle meets spacebo blues. “Epictetus Wash” brings to mind Ry Cooder but in ethereal mode. The intricate finger picking also is reminiscent of the late Jeff Buckley. Jakob Skøtt lays down some serious drumming which gives the songs some movement. “Canyon Collage” is the epic closer which gives off the feeling of a caravan traveling through some unknown valley. It’s a woozy, impressionistic raga piece that is epic in scope, yet subtle enough for deep contemplation.
From the moment you hit play you’re taken on a journey by the Martin Rude and Jakob Skøtt Duo. This record ebbs and flows through moments of groove-heavy tracks and dusty, ethereal meditations that bring to mind the cinema of Tarkovsky, Roeg, and Wim Wenders. These two seem to have found a pocket of sonic delights that hasn’t been discovered quite yet in these epic sessions. A coming together of fusion, experimental, ethereal electronics, and powerful jazz drumming all combine to give us the imaginative and deeply connective world of The Dichotomy of Control.
8.7 out of 10