SCOT RAY & VICKI RAY – Yar

Orenda

Charting the unpremeditated trajectories of Scot Ray’s artistry – which quite simply do not belong to any commonly known ambit of musical speech – always constitutes an interesting proposition. On the other hand, I’ll stand dishonored for my nonexistent knowledge on the activities of Scot’s sister Vicki, a pianist with an impressive CV to say the least. Yar is a long and winding road across various states of suspension between odd timbres and aleatory (a)tonalities, but also a reminder of the necessity of an inherent structure within an improvised context. The majority of this record greets the audience with ambiances characterized by intoxicating scents, quasi-ironic grimaces and unpolluted poetry.

Strings – of both piano and guitar – play a fundamental role, refracting their own harmonic features even in the sections where the alteration of the original voices moves the textural gravity into a sort of lunar psychedelia. A definite sense of rhythm is constantly present, but it’s not a clock we’re talking about. Here, time seems to exist according to a “now you see it, now you don’t” logic. A pulse may be detected for a while, entwined loops sucking the listener in. Then the air gets filled by wailing tones, anomalous resonances and quintessential glissando. As one becomes acquainted with the refreshing freedom transmitted by those emanations, the couple decides that the moment is right to direct the focus somewhere else.

There are segments that recall a cross-pollination of the inside-piano research of Stephen Scott and the oblique perspectives of some of Harry Partch’s creations. The splendidly titled “Foliage Of Stars” could easily be arranged for a modern chamber ensemble, whereas parts of “Cortege” evoke the sonority of Fred Frith’s solitary excursions. However, no remote comparison can prepare for the apparition of the bizarre electro-human vocalizations of “Anamorphosis”. This track made us envisage the crash landing of an alien youngster in the recording studio’s garden, the little guy promptly drafted to add further strangeness to the timbral concoction.

This writer’s intimate relationship with sounds of diverse origin has been the veritable backbone of a life spent looking for essential acoustic messages emitted by fellow souls often unaware of their therapeutic effect. Scot and Vicki Ray are definitely members of the virtual mega-family that makes an unenviable existence more endurable. This can be valid for anyone who still feels that there’s something deeply wrong in how things are “evolving”, therefore do not hesitate to plunge in the singular cosmos of these immune-from-commonplace sweethearts.

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