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Album Review

This 18-track recording, done in one day without break or overdubs, was literally an attempt to follow the earlier quests of Scriabin and Kandinsky, Feldman, Rothko, Guston, and Earl Brown to unite sound with color. Each of the titles here reflects that, from "Cicciolina Pink" (named after the Italian porn goddess) and "Dragon Blood" to "Raw Umber Then Burnt Ochre" and "Cyanide Blue Charm." Vocalist Lauren Newton and bassist Joëlle Léandre use virtually everything contained within their bodies to accomplish this age-old Sysiphian task. Contained in over 65 minutes are whispers and shrieks, scrapes and whistles, plucks and whirs, swooping lines and chattered, percussive ringing — literally everything their voices and bodies can employ. As such, it is impossible to review certain selections over others as this is really one work, but there is one place, on "Raw Umber Then Burnt Ochre," where Léandre lends her voice as well as her bass to reach places in between these two colors. Here sound, body, shade, timbre, color, and shape all blend erotically into one another. The resulting screams come from the heart of the journey where two voices meet in a foreign land and are content to stay there for as long as it takes to express that which is inexpressible. This is the human voice and the bass as you have never heard them together, and with good reason: this recording is like a play by Samuel Beckett, it becomes the unnameable simply because it reaches for the impossible and becomes something quite other in the process. Is this music? Definitely. Is it pleasurable to listen to? More than that — it exists in a place where pleasure is no longer a concern.


Born: 12 September 1951 in Aix-en-Provence, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Contrebassist and improviser Joëlle Léandre counts John Cage among her close mentors and has remained under-acknowledged for the amount — and quality — of her work since she began recording in 1981. Léandre has performed and recorded with many of the best, and most interesting, musicians in improvised music, including German bassist Peter Kowald, American reedsman and composer Anthony Braxton, Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer, Australian violinist Jon Rose, vocalist Lauren Newton, and British...
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18 Colors, Joelle Leandre
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