Mike Walker and Stuart McCallum – The Space Between

Album Review | Edition Records | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

When two of the finest British jazz guitarists come together to record at one of this country’s most inspiring studio environments, it’s not surprising that the resulting album is a veritable masterpiece.  The Space Between is the second collaboration from Manchester guitarists Mike Walker and Stuart McCallum and, like 2014’s Beholden, we’re once again gifted with an album that surpasses the simplicity of its making to enthral its listener with some of the finest soundscapes committed to disc.  It helps, of course, that this is not just a recording of two incredibly artful guitarists – Walker on electric and McCallum on acoustic – but one that experiments with subtle yet stimulating electronic sounds without ever sacrificing the grounding beauty of melody and theme.  Whether in the renderings of Stuart McCallum’s own compositions such as the spacious “Moment Us”, or the melancholic Bacharach classic “Alfie”, The Space Between presents a perpetual dream-like imagining that exists somewhere between reality and reverie.  From track to track there is a liquidity that, when running over the rhythmic stones of “And Finally” and “Sky Dancer” and reaching the tranquil deltas of “As the Trees Waltz” and the standard “My Ideal”, never abandons its mesmeric course.  The pleasant flow of the album is, perhaps, helped by the fact that it was brought to life in the Wood Room at Wiltshire’s Real World Studios, a warm and inviting space that offers a mellow environment where both musician and instrument can, evidently, push their boundaries to astonishing extents.  Whilst it was always going to be a superlative second offering from Walker and McCallum, the surprises that are delivered with each spin of this nine-track disc give The Space Between something of an evergreen quality, not least the overwhelming surprise that this album is markedly better than anticipated.  And you really can’t ask for more than that.