Sub Rosa

Charlemagne Palestine: Bösendorfer piano, Yamaha organ, voice; Rhys Chatham: guitar, trumpet, loop pedal

Their bond might be implanted in the seventies, yet – pretty unbelievably – this is the first recorded cooperation between Palestine and Chatham. I’m usually disinclined to the task of writing on characters who have made, in various ways, history; what more can one say about the obvious? Of course not every release by these cavaliers in the last two decades or so has been an out-and-out masterpiece, although their output has not fallen into the “Philip Glass orchestral cellulite award” category for our good luck. This one looks outstanding, at least judging from the gut reactions as I’m continuing my close inspection day in, day out.

We have a triple CD, whose contents vary from a disc to another even if an evident thread unfurls across the whole. The commitment to displaying adjoining sides of the artists’ well-established methods must be admired, being also the reason that will facilitate a listener in gulping over 153 minutes of mantric/shamanic substance; something that this writer is normally capable of doing quite effortlessly with past gems by veritable pioneers rather than nerve-consuming rubbish emitted by cheap replicas. For those who need a confirmation, I could forget my birthday while drowning into Palestine’s Strumming Music and Four Manifestations On Six Elements, and I would gladly march towards the guillotine soundtracked by Chatham’s “Waterloo No.2”.

Two common denominators distinguish the music throughout the silver triplet. Firstly, in each track the performers start on a given chord and essentially remain there, never really shifting to a different tonality. A constant pedal droning on and on, with minor variations in the inside components. You can bet your house that, just by relaxing a bit, the process of getting lost in the blessedness of profound resonance will be completed in no time. Second: mesmerizing sonority or not, Palestine will suddenly appear sometime, somewhere to accompany the procedures through his peculiar brand of vocal invocation to the spirits. In related contexts elsewhere – notably in Karenina – I hadn’t been able to rubber-stamp the large part of the man’s singing. Now instead I am growingly loving it, including the junctures where he snarls like an enraged drunkard, or expels a cartoon-ish character’s wobbly falsetto from the throat. An actual explanation of the conversion can’t be found right now, however the finale of the second episode – a phenomenal crescendo of organ, looped guitar and wailing Charlemagne – gives earnest goosebumps.

Instrumentally speaking, everything works great. The initial pairing of trumpet and piano results perhaps in the most intimate types of acoustic milieu. The level of catharsis reached in the second subdivision is definitely the highest, as told half a minute ago. The bulk of the conclusive movement is a tad less vehement in terms of conflicting overtones but nevertheless totally fulfilling: the sheer beauty of the superimposed instrumental gamut overcomes any latent rational resistivity.

No extra words required. Reasonably priced and replete with significant materials exalted by a wonderful cover, Youuu + Mee = Weeee is mandatory listening, a highly recommended exposure to positiveness in order to reduce the mental burdens of these unforgiving times.

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