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Can you dance and meditate at the same time? Talking to one of The Double before a Brooklyn gig in the summer of 2014, I was told they were going to play a “dance piece.” I wasn’t sure how to take that, but it slowly began to make sense as I watched their stunning set. The music struck an odd balance between perpetual motion and perpetual stasis: the drummer, Jim White (Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger), maintained a modified Bo Diddley beat, switching between the snare and the toms after long stretches on each, while the guitarist, Emmett Kelly (Cairo Gang, Ty Segall & the Muggers), stuck steadfastly to an E chord. They took the underpinning of countless rock ’n’ roll songs—the rhythm section—and decisively moved it to the foreground. It soon became clear that this wasn’t going to be the average concert of discrete songs or pieces—so the question then became how long they would sustain the groove for. The answer turned out to be 45 entrancing minutes. Maybe it could be likened to Rhys Chatham’s “Guitar Trio,” which also puts a rock ’n’ roll backbeat to a droning, solitary chord, but The Double’s vision of rock minimalism is more tied to both rock rhythm guitar and the drum’s more traditional role in rock’s invitation to dance. And unlike “Guitar Trio” (or the ’90s techno genre Trance, for that matter), The Double didn’t build up notes and rhythms until a breakdown section where the process started all over again; they went into it full bore and never let up. Many moons later I heard the studio recording of the same piece, i.e. this album. This time I knew what to expect from The Double, but naturally a recording has a different effect. The quasi-mono mix draws the guitar and drums together into one sonic forcefield. The open high E and B strings on the guitar ring out virtually the entire time, generating harmonics that fill out the sound and sometimes almost indicate another instrument (there are a couple of instances where the guitar sounds like both the organ and the rhythm guitar on the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray”). The piece doesn’t end so much as just stop; a final revelation comes in the last few seconds with the sound of the guitar amp’s reverb unit—which hadn’t been noticeable up until then—settling down with a shudder after they finish. The Double’s music is surely not cerebral, but with only two instruments, no vocals, no real modulations, and no production tricks, the mind does tend to wander if you’re sitting and listening to it. What happens if you dance to it? Then the beat is winding you up, and it clears your head—much like meditating, ironically, which is also associated with being seated and physically still. Maybe you have to see The Double live to fully appreciate what they do, maybe you have to dance to their music in order to fulfill its true intent…or maybe this album is a definitive statement of what they’re all about. The Double’s music is both mesmerizing and propelling, allowing for potential mental and physical stimulation. These guys eradicate the proverbial mind-body split with little more than strings, sticks and skins. —Alan Licht