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Live From New York

Louis, Christian Marclay, Ryoji Ikeda & Laurie Anderson

By Published: October 28, 2010
Somehow, Laurie Anderson's latest work, Delusion, appeared more personal than many of her previous pieces. Or maybe we should say emotional, as all of her narrations are based on actual experience, even if related by a third party. It's also more lyrical and direct, but there's the added challenge of Anderson's key theme here being the way truth, reality and definitive assessment can be warped by the recaller, either intentionally or unintentionally. Or at least, methinks that's what she's getting at, as each tale is unwound. To enhance the uncertainty of memory ("have I heard this one before?"), there are key sections transplanted from the Homeland album/piece. Fact is myth is a lie is something that will stand up in court is a tall tale. Anderson talked about her roots in Iceland and Ireland, about a farmer who built a dance hall for elves and also related her experience giving birth to her housepooch Lolabelle.

The overall atmosphere of Delusion seems to be more old-fashioned than is Anderson's previous wont. Less concerned with the impact of technology on the personal. Less global, more family. Maybe. The musical landscape is more organic too, rooted in Middle Eastern sounds rather than deliberately synthetic urban electro-starkness. A saxophonist (Colin Stetson) and violinist (Eyvind Kang) were playing live, mostly concealed as reflected shadow-beings, behind gauzy stage-side screens. Anderson alternated between her natural voice and a pitch-shifted artificial male deepness, but this latter was often so bassy that it became hard to make out some of the words. Nevertheless, it made an effective contrast.

Anderson would waft from electronics console (laptop, keyboards, etc.) to sofa, where she would lounge on a cream surface that was projected with images (often elemental in nature). There were also constant images on a looming screen to the rear (or natural in elements), mixing between abstract and highly figurative (a re-enactment of Anderson's mother's death, with the artist looking on). This is not to say that Delusion was too slow to unfold, but there was an intentionally dreamlike aura, and a steadier infusion of information, when compared to other Anderson works. There was an air of intellectual seduction, a sense that it did no harm to wander the attention onto a background detail or one of the twinkling candle-lights that lined the stage. Parts of the narrative would grasp softly but firmly, whilst others would drift, before the listener latched back onto their thread This was almost unavoidable, given the 90 minute, straight-through length of the piece. Delusion was almost like a séance.

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