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Mia Zabelka: DUOS featuring Alain Joule / Tracy Lisk


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Mia Zabelka: DUOS featuring Alain Joule / Tracy Lisk
Although Austrian violinist, vocalist & composer Mia Zabelka's first album—a vinyl LP—was released in 1987, DUOS (Setola Di Maiale, 2023) is only her twenty-fifth album release, sixteen of which have been released since 2010. While that could be a negative sign for some musicians, for Zabelka it is an indication of the quality of her albums which do get released, every one of which is worth investigating. DUOS, her first album release of 2023, is no exception. True to the album title, its contents comprise two extended duos, both recorded in May 2023, pairing Zabelka with different musicians— unsurprising as all of Zabelka's albums for the past decade or more have been solo, a duo or a trio.

Here, the 27:07 "The Poetics of Sharing" was recorded live, with Zabelka on violin and vocals, at Klanghaus Untergreith, Sankt Johan im Saggautal, Austria, and France's Alain Joule, on violoncello with percussive extension, at Espace AJ, Montreal, Canada. Yes, the two musicians were separated by the Atlantic Ocean but, using technology, could hear one another clearly so they could be recorded simultaneously; the two separate recordings were later synchronised in the studio. In the same way, the 26:19 "Contrapuntal Empathy" features Zabelka, again at Klanghaus, playing in a duo with Tracy Lisk on drums and cymbal bowing, who was recorded in Dauphin Street Studio, Philadelphia, USA.

Despite the use of technology to bring the two duos together, they both sound as if the musicians were playing side by side in the same room, rather than thousands of miles apart. Both tracks were mixed and mastered by Lasse Marhaug who must be congratulated for his technical wizardry.

All three musicians are credited with composition, usually a sure sign that the music was improvised rather than pre- composed. Pairing Zabelka with a different player for each piece was a sensible idea as they each bring out different facets of her playing. In "The Poetics of Sharing," the interactions between violin and cello are frequently breathtaking, at times worthy of string quartet members playing from a score; even across the Atlantic, the two manage to sustain a regular pulse while playing (or singing, in the case of Zabelka) freely.

In "Contrapuntal Empathy" Zabelka and Lisk work just as well together as Zabelka and Joule. The interactions and empathy (yes, the track is well titled) sound as if they are long-standing collaborators who have developed a telepathic understanding of one another.

DUOS is well worth exploring; it is praise indeed to say that it is up to the standard of Zabelka's previous albums.

Track Listing

The Poetics of Sharing; Contrapuntal Empathy.


Additional Instrumentation

Mia Zabelka: violin, vocals, compositions; Alain Joule: violincello with percussive extension, composition; Tracy Lisk: drums, cymbal bowing, composition.

Album information

Title: DUOS featuring Alain Joule / Tracy Lisk | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Setola di Maiale



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