The album features Steve Kenny and Vic Berry, who met when they worked together in a small office for a social enterprise and community empowerment consultancy. They became friends when they discovered that they shared a common interest in playing improvised music.
Multi-instrumentalist Vic had studied music with schoolmate Simon H. Fell who later became an established composer and double bass improviser. It was Fell who introduced Vic to improvisation and the Avant Garde sounds of the 20th century. Vic later studied music composition and electronic music at Keele University with Tim Souster in 1978. Influenced by the bands of the Punk period, Vic taught himself to play the guitar and became involved with many 1980s bands. The Outskirts and The Psychotics were probably the most well known bands he played with regularly but he also did ad hoc sessions with lots of other bands including The Barracudas on a couple of occasions.
Self-taught Steve had learned to play by jamming and recording with friends, the most notable being author Geoff Nicholson. Geoff had written a musical and comedy sketch show for the Cambridge Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe in 1976 and invited Steve to be the lead guitarist. Afterwards Steve joined some old friends to form the Sheffield rock band, Flying Lessons in 1977 where he showed a Neil Young type flair for indulging in extended guitar solos.
Stepping back from performing live in 1978, over the years Steve would continue to jam and record original music with various friends under a series of different band names e.g. 2GTRS, The Radon Brothers and Slime Divas. He would also record solo albums in styles that ranged from progressive rock and blues to soundscapes, drones and noise.
In a prolific period between 2007 and 2010, Vic and Steve would meet up to jam and improvise on 10 occasions and produce enough material for at least 6 CDs whose styles range from improvised rock and blues to free-form jazz and avant garde noise, often in the same track. It is difficult to pigeonhole them into any particular genre.
Steve’s expressive and sometimes anarchic style is complimented by the restraint of classical harmonies and piano style finger picking that is a feature of Vic’s playing influenced by ragtime, rock, and blues.
As the duo’s work matured together over this short period of time, there is an exquisite tension between chaos and classical harmony, which is best illustrated in the closing section of the track 21.12.12.
“Steve’s lead melodies can be emotional, profound and even tearful, but Vic’s optimistic personality using traditional tonalities shines through like a ray of sunshine after Steve’s tormented guitar has laid everything to waste.”
The album Elements is a compilation of some of the improvisations recorded over the four years they were working together. As with all the recording it is all live improvisation with no overdubs in the final tracks.