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Northern Spy

Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen: saxophone, flute, vocals, electronics; Tom Blancarte: double bass

Blancarte and Jensen have taken their name as a performing duo from a neon billboard seen in a derelict neighborhood of Houston, and the listener might trust the press release hypothesizing sounds that could soundtrack the “decline of contemporary civilization”. However, in the twelve tracks of this self-titled debut CD (released two years ago, though Discogs.com reports 2010), husband and wife seem genuinely intent in striving for some sort of catharsis. They attempt to process the natural laws of human manifestation, starting again from there to achieve a condition of relative unconsciousness pushing negative stimuli and unhappiness away. In that regard, the exercising of a looping device appears indispensable in the music’s proportionate frugality. Both artists utilize the remedial qualities of cyclical continuation – bathing in extended reverberation more often than not – to establish the basis of a flourishing aggregation of stratified fragments. Jensen cares – quite gracefully, after all – about the melodic lineaments of the whole, now and then remaining trapped inside unsafe quagmires of pharyngeal etherealness while adding touches of lyrical humaneness through the reeds. Cultivated tough man Blancarte hits definitely harder, at times appearing a little obsessional in brutally hammering the mechanics of retention via substantial patterns and unsettling grumbles, snapping the bass strings with impressive forcefulness but still able to enthrall thanks to a sensible arco extracting celestial upper partials from nowhere. This coalition between muscular wisdom and lucid vulnerability works fine on the long distance, ultimately turning the record into a helpful means to mind-cleaning ends.

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