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Album Review

Violinist Ysanne Spevack has recorded aplenty for other artists, but there are very few albums credited to her name. Soundzero, her collaboration with guitarist Phillp Clemo, is a statement to her creativity and sound, but also a true mind-melding between strong artists. Soundzero offers a surprising and enticing blend of styles: jazz/rock and space rock (Spevack's electric violin is echo-drenched at times), reggae and Indian world fusion, and touches of free improvisation here and there to spice things up. There are no real comparisons to this album, but possible inspirations and markers come to mind: Soft Heap and Soft Machine Legacy for the free jazz/rock feel; Ozric Tentacles and Spaceheads for the spaciness and drive of "Burn out the Channels" (among other tracks); Strings of Consciousness for the multilayered arrangements, cross-stylistic approach and use of vocals on "What the Voice Leaves Behind"; Robert Wyatt for the use of contributions from experimental musicians and a certain whimsy. The general mood is space jazz, but the aforementioned elements all filter in and out, each piece developing its own ambience. Spevack and Clemo handle the bulk of the songwriting and playing, with a handful of guests stepping in, including jazz drummer Mark Sanders, improv bassist John Edwards, singer Cleveland Watkiss, trumpeter Phil Slater, and tabla player Tarlochan "Bobby" Singh. Pieces are long, slow-developing but engulfing, aiming for the lasting mood instead of the one-two punch. Some tracks are definitely closer to spontaneous improvisation over a groove than compositions, with both Spevack and Clemo (either on guitar or keyboards) going textural and microtonal in their dialogues. I don't know if Spevack and Clemo are musicians' musicians (probably), but Soundzero is a long-player lover's long-player, something to dive into and immerse yourself in. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Soundzero, Ysanne Spevack
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  • £7.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: 23 March 2009

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