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Phantom Orchard

Ikue Mori & Zeena Parkins

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Album Review

This could be Zeena Parkins' strongest album since Ursa's Door. A collaboration with the ubiquitous Ikue Mori, Phantom Orchard marks her return to a rich, complex form of writing. The album also features her talents as an instrumentalist as a whole, instead of focusing on a single aspect of her work. She can be heard on piano, Mellotron, electric piano, and Moog and Buchla synthesizers, along with her electric and acoustic harps. The latter instrument provides the delicate overture of "Jezebel," the album opener. Right from the start, the two artists open the door to a sound world rich in details and quizzical forms of beauty. Ikue Mori's electronics seem to include a fair dose of real-time sampling and treatment, as the landscapes painted here often appear to be self-mirroring. There is a lot of movement within the stereo field, along with depth effects and lots of overdubs. The result is a set of dense pieces with complex arrangements and a compositional structure that can be felt but is rarely actually seen ("Jezebel" and "Ghostlake" are exceptions). There is a strong element of academic electro-acoustics in the techniques of composition, but the results feel more like papiers collés, with lots of different colors, shapes, and textures. Recorded at a different time and place, "Contraband" seems to be a live performance: it is much noisier and single-minded in terms of arrangements, revealing a more vital, immediate side to this duo. Parkins and Mori are truly exploring the music inside the sound, and what they find rewrites the canons of beauty. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1953 in Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Alternative

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

Ikue Mori has been a key member of the downtown music scene since moving to New York from Tokyo in 1977. She began her career playing drums for the seminal "no wave" group DNA, which she formed with guitarist Arto Lindsay and keyboardist Tim Wright. After the short-lived but highly influential group broke up in 1982, Mori began improvising live and recording with experimental musicians like Fred Frith, Tom Cora and, most notably, John Zorn. By 1985, Mori had completely abandoned the standard drum...
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Phantom Orchard, Ikue Mori
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