Improv-ing with time

Blackfish release recordings of their fully improvised sets on Saturday at Bryant Lake Bowl

James Everest rehearses for his cd release show in the basement of his home in South Minneapolis Wednesday morning. The cd Blackfish is a live recording of several performances with another musician Joel Pickard from around the country. Each track has its own unique sound from the experimental improvisation of steel and acoustic guitars with different effects and looping pedals.

Erin Westover

James Everest rehearses for his cd release show in the basement of his home in South Minneapolis Wednesday morning. The cd Blackfish is a live recording of several performances with another musician Joel Pickard from around the country. Each track has its own unique sound from the experimental improvisation of steel and acoustic guitars with different effects and looping pedals.

Carter Haaland

What: Blackfish CD release

When: 7 p.m., Saturday

Where: Bryant Lake Bowl

810 W. Lake Street

Cost: $10/12

James Everest graduated from the University of Minnesota in the âÄô90s with a degree in history, but his major didnâÄôt dictate his career trajectory.

Since graduating heâÄôs played in an eclectic mix of local bands including Lateduster and Neotropic, and in 2007 he joined the recently disbanded stalwarts of Roma Di Luna. Maintaining his University ties, he also hosts The WholeâÄôs intimate Making Music series.

His most recent musical, the experimental duo Blackfish, will release nine recordings of fully improvised sets from various cities throughout the U.S. this Saturday. And theyâÄôll be lugging their necessarily dense collection of instruments to Bryant Lake Bowl and performing together for the first time since last year.

The project started as an accompaniment to local choreographer Emily JohnsonâÄôs Thank-You Bar series âÄî an innovative performance piece featuring storytelling, music and dancers moving about the audience to emphasize a full sensory perception of the performance. Everest and his band mate Joel Pickard scored the sounds for the unique dance environment and tagged along on its nine-city national tour.

While crafting the Thank-You Bar scores, Everest and Pickard became so engrossed by this new approach to making music that they decided to perform fully improvised sets at various venues in addition to the Thank-You Bar performances.

Blackfish consists of Pickard wielding a pedal steel guitar, which he frequently strokes with a bow while Everest maintains a steady guitar presence, occasionally tapping out chords with a mallet.

In addition, the two casually loop an array of unconventional sounds, such as the crumpling of paper and the chiming of old wine bottles, resulting in a delicately intricate soundscape decorated with impulsive, momentary reactions. And itâÄôs all improvised.

âÄúWe were touring around the country and we had no idea what was going to happen,âÄù Everest said. âÄúThe performances were entirely a product of where we were at in our lives and where we were in the country.âÄù

Thanks to logistics (Pickard lives in Portland) SaturdayâÄôs CD release show will be the pairâÄôs first time performing since the Thank-You Bar series. TheyâÄôll be leaning on years of experience and an innate musical charisma to improvise an entire set after going months without even seeing each other.

âÄúOver two and a half years weâÄôve never played with each other otherwise,âÄù Everest said. âÄúHeâÄôs in Portland and IâÄôm here. We get together in a city and set up all our crazy toys and just do this.âÄù

But thatâÄôs really the only way the two have made music together. The performances have been as sporadic in spirit as they were in location. Yet thereâÄôs a parabolic consistency throughout the entire nine-disk catalogue.

âÄúWe didnâÄôt really know what would happen but we kept doing it,âÄù Everest said. âÄúWe kept recording them and there seems to be this larger arc.âÄù