Sunday, March 03, 2019

Jessica Pavone - In the Action (Relative Pitch, 2019)

Composer and milti-instrumentalist Jessica Pavone is well known on the downtown music scene as a formidable performer and collaborator. This is her third album for solo viola, playing the instrument and interfacing with a small group of pedals and electronics. On this fascinating album she takes a variety of tones that she can create on her instrument and use them as starting points for improvisation either solo, or incorporating the pedals and loops she has at her command. "Oscillatory Salt Transport" begins with one such lengthy yearning tone, sweeping through the silence that surrounds her, doubled, by a loop which can be played with or against, giving the music a piercing emotional resonance. It is a sound that patiently builds, the construction of which is architectural in nature, adding pieces, bit by bit, and drifting back into stark solo cries. She uses short, staccato jabs to increase the speed of the performance gathering motion and powerful kinetic energy that seems to lift from the strings. "and Maybe in the End" opens with gentle plucking and bowing, giving the music a folkish tint, thought one modified that is by electronics and pedals. The more ominous bowed sounds, altered by the electronics are juxtaposed against the gentle guitar like strums, creating a rich and uneasy dynamic flow. "Look Out - Look Out - Look Out" is an amazing piece for viola and extreme electronics, sounding like a wonderful mashup of Metal Machine Music with Tony Conrad and Faust's Outside the Dream Syndicate. The music is pummeling in its industrial beauty, forming harsh, uncompromising music that is absolutely compelling, strafing the ground in waves of sustained fire and then flying off into the sky to prepare for another sortie, and leaving on the wings of a massive sustained drone. The final piece is "In the Action" with almost country flavored opening sounds, patiently developed and gradually extrapolated upon through repetition and rumbling looped sounds that gradually develop in the background. Repeating figures through the loop and the viola are fascinating and attention grabbing, creating and focusing the music in this experimental manner is quite successful, and encapsulates the nature of the album as a whole which is filled with exciting ideas and deserves to be widely heard. In the Action -

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