SPUNK & JOËLLE LÉANDRE – Live In Molde

+3dB

Joëlle Léandre: double bass; Kristin Andersen: trumpet and flutes; Lene Grenager: cello; Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje: voice and electronics; Hild Sofie Tafjord: french horn and electronics

Some collaborations are, in straight words, gifts of mother nature for inquisitive audiences. Such is the case of the seven-year long joint venture between SPUNK and Léandre, here taped during a Norwegian performance from 2011 sounding as creatively up-to-date as if coming from last week. Rarely we are so lucky to milk effective meanings from the entirety of a given release; this is one of those blessed junctures.

Except for two solos by Léandre – distinguished by her trademark amalgamation of satirical spirit, mercurial temperament and alert conjunction with an improvisation’s transcendental potential – the record is epitomized by the collective performances, only one omitting the French double bassist. Four tracks that flawlessly combine the acoustic quintessences of the instruments and Maja Ratkje’s vocalism within electronic needleworks that come across as galvanizing, evocative, or both.

At this point the task of a reviewer becomes arduous, unless he/she escapes through a classic “career-in-pills” rehashing move. Instead, try and figure this: a fictional place where a true democracy survives, without conflicts of personalities. Sentences and decisions weighing equally in the economy of a no-nonsense discussion yielding luscious aural fruits and a few nuggets of turmoil.

Each artist is the proud possessor of an identifiable timbre. This and a dexterous mixing job definitely help in attributing a “compositional” flavor to the whole. The music moves along dynamic shifts and mutable moods: pensive, excitable, graceful, irritable, obsessive in an ever-fluid changeover from a state to another. Getting mesmerized by the sumptuous inconstancy is unavoidable. When Ratkje spits out chains of implausible syllables encircled by an impressively concerted inflammation, phonations and tools turn into a sonic unicum exhaling crippling toxins and fine scents at once.

Beyond the timbral attractiveness, Live In Molde summons up a deeper beauty: an integration of discernment and quick-witted expressive options, strong individualities transfigured into an arresting modern-day fantasia.

Posted in Uncategorized