David Daniell and Douglas McCombs's first collaborative LP, Sycamore, was assembled from seven hours of in-studio improvisations. Daniell and McCombs sifted through the material looking for their favorite moments, then combined, cross faded, mixed, and matched those moments into something that made sense to them as a long player.
For their new release, the double LP Versions, they gave the same seven hours of material to noted recording engineer and producer Ken Brown (ex-Tortoise), who was given free rein to assemble an LP of his choosing (subject to approval, of course).
The results are fantastic. Brown has chosen to highlight moments in the music that the normally reserved Daniell and McCombs probably would not have chosen. There's a wider dynamic range on Versions, from brutally raw to delicate to practically inaudible. The other interesting aspect is that Brown's selections rarely cross over with the material on Sycamore--this is in no way a "remix," and that is exactly what Daniell and McCombs were hoping for.
In addition, Versions includes a second LP of two live performances. These were chosen to show how Daniell and McCombs's music develops in a live setting. Improvising in a recording studio and improvising in front of an audience are two vastly different things. Montreal and Knoxville were two of Daniell and McCombs's favorite performances from their tours together.
Over the years Daniell has collaborated with many notable musicians, including Loren Connors, Rhys Chatham, Tim Barnes, Jeph Jerman, Thurston Moore, Greg Davis, and Jonathan Kane, as well as releasing numerous albums under his own name and with his band San Agustin on labels such as Table of the Elements and Family Vineyard. McCombs is more often seen wielding a bass guitar, whether as a member of Eleventh Dream Day, the acoustic collective Pullman, or the pioneering and inimitable Tortoise; in his role as the driving force behind Brokeback; or through his varied work with the likes of Tom Ze, Azita Youseffi, Will Oldham, Yo La Tengo, and Calexico.