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Album Review

Vocal work has allowed itself to be moved deeply into the realm of the personal and the ritual. Whether it be the work of Meredith Monk and her personal, spiritual, and mythical narratives; Laurie Anderson's searching for the heart of her father; or David Moss and Phil Minton's seeking a personal abstraction that transcends the voice and culture altogether, there are many variations. Jewlia Eisenberg's take is different. For instance, the title word "trilectic" refers to the intersection of the texts and personages of three people: the critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, the work and life of Russian revolutionary art queen Asja Lacis, and the noted Jewish author, translator, and editor Gershom Sholem. But it could also have been called "quartlectic" in that all of these texts and lives are read through her personal impressions, sensibilities, and body, sex, and life. Using primarily Benjamin's Moscow Diary, which sets forth his ideas of opposition as well as his seemingly unrequited love for Lacis, Lacis' own autobiography, and Sholem's introduction to Moscow Diary, Eisenberg, in the group Charming Hostess, uses a vocal and percussive ensemble that explores the dialectics and desires inherent in these texts as they come through her body. To the listener this is startling, raw, and full of stacked vocals and wanton expression; the words in these texts become her own wishing for the Muse to deliver what her desire demands. The music moves along quickly, entwined and enveloped between and within the chosen texts. Her vocal techniques employ everything from doo wop to Tuvan throat singing to bedroom histrionics; this is a provocative examination of a particular period in revolutionary history in which art is looked at in the light of production and reproduction and how it gets remade, recontextualized, and redesired in an age where art is all but forgotten. There is nothing academic about this CD — it breathes, pants, whispers, shouts, and lilts beautifully with everything from grief to joy to loneliness and conviction in every phrase.

Trilectic, Jewlia Eisenberg
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