Track: Mark Shippy & Alex Cunningham – ‘Clear Walkway’: US Maple guitarist brings the improv for guitar and violin

AFICIONADOS of the free music, this way please: Mark Shippy, former guitarist with the legendary Chicago noise-rock voyagers U.S. Maple, has got together with St Louis, Missouri violin improviser Alex Cunningham for a real exploration of what the two stringed instruments can achieve together in and of the moment.

They’re releasing a two-handed album, Ghost Note, on the Iowan cradle of the sonically odd, Personal Archives, in the first week of June; and a first venture, “Clear Walkway”, has emerged from the labs; you can stream that below.

Ghost Note is the pair’s first recorded collaboration and is alternately dense and spacious, a conversation between improv artists from different generations, both steeped in the DIY tradition.

Mark Shippy graduated to U.S. Maple, who released a trio of albums for Drag City at the turn of the century, from beginnings in the noise rock outfit Snailboy. His recent work include trio recordings with Ben Billington (of Tiger Hatchery, Quicksails) and guitarist Daniel Wyche on The Eventual Warp Cat.

Alex Cunningham has released ten albums investigating the improvisational power of the violin since 2015, and including last year’s Specifically The Water with claire rousay; besides which he’s a member of the Vernacular String Trio alongside bassist Josh Weinstein and cellist Tracy Andreotti.

We’re told the album “contains some truly incredible highs … where it feels like we’re spying on the mating dance of two violent universes.”

Mark Shippy & Alex Cunningham’s Ghost Note will be released digitally and on vinyl by Personal Archives on June 4th; you can order your copy over at Bandcamp, now.

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