Trondheim, Norway-based Eldbjørg Raknes never ceases to explore and expand her art. In this solo album, the 23rd in her discography, the innovative vocal artist explores the dense interplay between vocal utterance in its most basic forms, free-form texts and intuitive improvisation that culminates in an organic and highly personal manner of composition.
Raknes is assisted by guitarist and sound sculptor Stian Westerhus
, her collaborator in her previous release From Frozen Feet Heat Came
. On this album she focuses on vocal improvisation in different rooms, recording it at different locations: a school; a small wooden room from 1893 in Sjøbygda Artist Residency that she runs; and in a large stone room in a church on a winter day.
These spaces add a special quality to the eleven vocal pieces. All sound as if they gain a larger, elastic form as they patiently float and echo, having been processed and sampled in these rooms. The outcome is much more accessible than her previous radical vocal experiments. More in the vein of fellow vocal artist Elin Rosseland
than of Sidsel Endresen
, both past collaborators in the ESE trio.
The first five improvisations, "Close To," are meditative; often dreamy and bearing her idiosyncratic method of playing with soundssounds that morph into intelligible words, losing their meaning only to be framed as part of short sentences that slowly gain a cohesive structure and essence. The second partthe five short vocal improvisations of "Far Fromfocus only on her vocals, and its presence and movement in space, and with her beautiful and sensitive phrasing, a sense of time and melody, Raknes manage to form a kind of mini-choir. The concluding track, "All Right, Alive," has the structure of an almost intelligible songan abstract lullaby, with bells and distant soft choir, bringing a smile after this unique journey in sounds and vocals.
Each new listen unveils more colors and shades from the masterful vocal art of Raknes. More sounds appear, lasting and lingering in the memory.