Mutual admiration society and David Grubbs and Ryley Walker had been taking notes on one another’s playing for some time before they hit the stage together on a couple of blistering occasions immediately pre-pandemic.
Studio sessions were clearly in the cards, and the result is A Tap on the Shoulder, a collection of duo performances that veers from crystalline instrumental compositions (“A Tap on the Shoulder,” “Accepting Most Plans,” “Dorothy Kept”) to animated alien chatterfests (“Leslie Steinberger”), and from ecstatic extrapolations charging this way and that (“Pump Fake on the Death Rattle,” “The Madman from Massachusetts in an Empty Bar”) to, I don’t know, words don’t do the trick (“Uglification”). Don’t think for a second that these shorthand descriptions suffice.
Electric guitars make electronic music. Ryley’s hellion musical fearlessness lights a fire under the more typically Apollonian, chess-masterly Grubbs.