The madcap genius of Robert Horton is no doubt familiar to the majority of Foxy Digitalis readers. Unfortunately, the improvisational skill of Dan Plonsey ? Horton?s colleague in the whimsical free skronk project Imperfect Masters ? is probably less renowned. Both men are Bay Area residents (they?re neighbours according to Plonsey?s website) and both have been active in that region?s improv scene for decades. ?No One Knows Why? is the duo?s second release and is their first for Alex Cobb?s most excellent Students of Decay label.
This sophomore release feels like a somewhat soporific blend of the musical motifs found on the Masters? first outing, the baseball-themed ?Strike Out.? Whereas ?Strike Out? boasted twelve somewhat composed pieces that were each based around their own singular vision, ?No One? features six lengthy improvisations (most of which were subsequently manipulated by Horton on his computer) that fuse lazy-bones free improvisation with minimalist drone. Typical of a Robert Horton release, the instrumentation is unique and eclectic: Horton uses his boot (a homemade guitar-like instrument built from scraps of wood) and drone producing instruments extensively, while Plonsey mainly sticks to his reeds (oboe and clarinet) and a fiddle. Overall, Plonsey?s improvisations on clarinet outshine Horton?s boot passages, but Horton scores points for the sheer difficulty of extracting recognizable musical notes from a scrap wood guitar. When the two improvisers lock on to each other, such as on the final track, a joyful chaos erupts. It?s this confused ecstasy ? an imperfect mastery ? that makes ?No One Knows Why? an essential listen. 7/10 -- Bryon Hayes (29 August, 2007)