Charles Hayward, drummer of This Heat and Thurston Moore, singer and guitarist of Sonic Youth spent an afternoon recording together at Lynchmob Studio in London. That’s the extent of the information shared in advance of this, the final product, Improvisations, a collaboration between the experimental rock legends. With seven entirely instrumental tracks, made up on the fly, casually/lazily referred to as ‘A1-A3’ and ‘B1-B4,’ it’s mildly surprising they even bothered to put their names on the album cover. Whether you listen likely has less to do with this review and more to do with your devotion/completist mentality towards This Heat and/or Sonic Youth.

Not only does it do away with structure (even for an improvisatory album of untitled tracks, there’s little in the way of graceful movement from point/side A to B), it’s also decidedly non-melodic. Moore’s guitar creaks and fills the studio with fuzz and feedback. Sometimes, he runs the clock out on tracks with some high-end squealing. You don’t have to listen to his entire catalogue to know Moore is a proficient guitarist, but there’s something wanting about his work here. There aren’t any head-turning moments from him until ‘B3,’ when he gives a low key siren sound to the guitar and eventually hits a really fun moment of feedback mixed with Hayward’s toms.

“Eventually” is the operative word with this album. It’s not about waiting for the best songs but for the best moments. The guitar and drums at a stretch of ‘A3’ move together like a food processor. On ‘B1,’ Hayward brings in fills like they’re going out of style. There isn’t much in the way of nuance to his playing here, but Hayward’s cutting loose makes for more involving contributions than Moore’s. However, while these moments are satisfying in a vacuum, they lack the moment of anticipation that would make them hit harder. Yes, it’s unrehearsed, but that doesn’t mean Hayward and Moore couldn’t have guided each other to better results.

Then again, the limitations might have more to do with member quantity than anything. Experienced as Hayward and Moore are with drums and guitar, they run through most of their ideas early on. A bassist might disrupt the “meeting of legends” narrative (unless they got another experimental icon on board) but it could give these tracks further depth. A freeform band like The Psychic Paramount is carried a long way by the guitar/bass/drums all working off each other.

As an unrehearsed album of live recordings, Improvisations is at a crossroads. In theory, it’s a loose, frills-free jam session from two revered artists, whose fingerprints can see on the music of bands decades younger than them. In practice, it’s palatable, well-performed, but rarely involving. It’s a shame that the most exciting thing about a collaboration between Charles Hayward and Thurston Moore is that it’s a collaboration between Charles Hayward and Thurston Moore.