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An Acrobat's Heart

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Album Review

Annette Peacock has been a defining influence on the music of ECM for many years, but An Acrobat's Heart is the first album she has made for the label as a leader. Here Peacock turns away from her previous work with electronic elements to produce a spare, ethereal set of compositions for voice, piano, and strings echoing the style of her early '80s album Skyskating. An Acrobat's Heart also marks the first time that Peacock has composed for strings, and the Cikada String Quartet's seamless accompaniment almost breathes with her. Silence and minimalism play major roles in this work, and both Peacock's voice and the accompanying instrumentation seem to bloom up from the quiet background and then dissipate again as quickly they appeared. The tones are clear and precise, but occasionally veer into dissonance as Peacock's wistful lyrics are fleshed out into holograms of sound, transparent but fully realized. Elements of jazz, blues, and torch songs ebb and flow throughout the album, adding to the nostalgic themes of romance and longing embodied by the lyrics. While seeming deeply personal, the lyrics are the weakest element of An Acrobat's Heart, lacking in the kind of poetic imagery and rhythm that would place them on a par with the quality of the surrounding music. Overall, however, this album proves that after over three decades as a performer, Annette Peacock still has the skill to compose and execute truly beautiful music.


Born: 1941 in New York, NY [Brooklyn]

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Annette Peacock's work as a vocalist, pianist, and composer is austere, cryptic, laconic, minimalistic, and relentlessly individual. Her dry delivery and penchant for stark, stripped-down musical "environments" have made her something of a cult figure and an icon of the avant-garde. An early participant (1961-1962) in Dr. Timothy Leary's psychedelic culture experiments and a longtime adherent of Zen Macrobiotics, Peacock has been releasing albums since 1968. But her career has been marked by fairly...
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An Acrobat's Heart, Annette Peacock
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