(Radio Bremen)

When dealing with female interpreters of the art of advanced vocalism, four personal favourites come to mind: Diamanda Galàs, Meredith Monk, Shelley Hirsch and – more recently – Non Credo’s Kira Vollman. I’m afraid that I’ll have to add a fifth chair at the table. I had already met Ute Wassermann in a great CD on Creative Sources, “Kunststoff”, a duo with trumpet player Birgit Ulher; yet, “Birdtalking” is one of those records that immediately raise all aerials, a top-rank effort in which a single talent is enough to carry the heaviest of weights, namely maintaining the artistic level of almost one hour of music constantly high throughout. These nine tracks were recorded in 2004; Wassermann’s voice was captured alone or multitracked, her excellent use of extended techniques including both traditional and avantgarde derivations (yodel, throat-tremolo, harmonic singing) with just a modicum of processing in some of the improvisations (an example being “Multipel” I and II, where reverberation contributes to the singer sounding like a night bird, a siren, a monster and the ocean at one and the same time). These pieces could at times be perceived as fragments of haunted spirituality but they possess rigour and technical wholeness, giving us a chance to compare them with the most extraordinary performances of academic experimentation. The concepts expressed by Wassermann are in a way ephemeral inasmuch as they appear like sheer visions; yet an overall sense of accomplishment permeates the listening process, which immediately becomes an open-eyed distinction between reality and a virtual, almost otherworldly perfection that never ceases to amaze our ears.