(pfMENTUM)

A truly nerve-soothing album, this is the first recording by flutist Burr as a leader after numerous appearances in other artists’ projects. Hailing from Los Angeles, she is gifted with a unique personality that is nicely highlighted by the two solo pieces contained here, beginning and ending the record. Burr vivisections her instrument to bring out its most hidden characters, employing a range of techniques going from pure atonal phrasing to raucous vocal/air utterances, all the way through a whole world of multiphonics and particles of lingual chattering. The large part of the album, though, is a series of advanced conversations with Sara Schoenbeck, Andrew Pask, Jeanette Kangas and Steuart Liebig. The composer uses graphic scores – partially illustrated on the CD insert – as a starting point from what she actually defines as “songs”, where improvisation is “at least 50% of all tunes” and, of course, the involved players’ bravura does (half) the trick. The duet with Liebig, “Senbazuru”, is a cross between native American music, with the prepared bass acting as a tuned percussion against the alto flute, and Motor Totemist Guild’s most intelligible pages. “Permutations ’62″ features Andrew Pask in an exquisite exchange of self conscious melodies that never lose their orientation towards technical excellence. The two tracks featuring the bassoon are my favorites; “Canon-Cards-Canon” (I and II) mix irony and refined control of the instrumental nuances, the timbres fabulously blending in an outstanding collage of multiform remarks flying around like intertwining butterflies around Stravinskian flowers. Sara Schoenbeck’s virtuoso playing is at one and the same time riveting and light-hearted, perfectly complementing Burr’s zig-zags. The longest piece is “Four square”, where Burr and Kangas go beyond their specific aesthetics to inquire about silence and its relative ruptures, reminiscing about what once were “melody” and “rhythm” and now instead are just a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t invitation to a barefoot dance. All in all, “Duos” is one of the very best releases by this fine Californian label.

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