Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson - Searching For The Disappeared Hour (Pyroclastic Records, 2021)

Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitar player Mary Halvorson unleash their second enigmatic album, taking the time offered by 2020's circumstances to develop the music more slowly than their first record, an off the cuff live album released in 2017. The tracks on this album were specifically designated for it and led to much success, beginning with the opening track "Golden Proportion"  where the musicians demonstrate wonderfully intricate interplay, blending their pitches and tones, with the slight use of distortion which is effective in showing all the possibilities of the guitar. “Lulu’s Second Theorem” moves in a different direction with choppy guitar keeping things fresh and moving well, while developing an interesting narrative. The music drops dramatically to a quiet, subtle improvisation, where stream of consciousness lines and notions bubble up and dissipate. There is some beautifully atmospheric playing on “Faceless Smears,” revealing spaciousness rising from the core of the performance that hints at a ballad feeling with the use of gracefully rippling cascading guitar and piano. “Moonbow” develops  in a similar manner with subtle and gentle piano notes mixed with jellied smeared guitar sounds creating a funhouse mirror of excitement that leads back to subtle and quiet conclusion. This is where both musicians’ unique conception of their own sound and approach to improvisation really shines in a remarkable way. “Mind Out of Time” uses structural piano to provide foundation for strange sounding jabs of guitar, followed by lush notes and chords of piano, giving the whole performance a fascinating feeling of floating in luminal space between the instruments, between improvisation and structure. Interesting guitar sketches over skeletal piano form the setting on “Party Dress” providing an impetus for contextual interplay that is consistently excellent and surprising. This album worked very well, both musicians are masters of their respective instruments with distinctive personal voices. But it is the combination of the two voices and the mutual affinity for risk taking that really drives this album’s success. Searching For The Disappeared Hour - amazon.com

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