The sophomore release of New York-based SoCorpothe vocal duo of Sasha Bogdanowitsch and Sabrina Lastman, who released their self-produced On Becoming in 2009is a conceptual work, drawing its inspiration from the ancient world's five essential elements: fire, water, air, earth and aether, or void. This conceptual set of compositions, all of which were written as an elaborate game of spontaneous improvisations of sonic vocal and instrumental elementsreflecting the natural, ancient elementscorresponds with a set of electronics enhancements. These enhancements process, modify, sample and loop the basic organic elements in order to form a beautiful, multilayered orchestration of fresh and inventive sounds that originate with the human voice but know no genre or boundaries.
Bogdanowitsch and Lastman met in a workshop led by Meredith Monk; her influence is still apparent, but the duo has developed its own distinct language, experimenting and expanding its vocabulary and harmonic vocalizations with the creative use of bowed psaltery, autoharp and percussive mbiras, which add a timeless dimension and unique atmosphere to these wordless vocal improvisations. Even with no texts, the eight compositions manage to convey vivid and colorful images and expressive stories.
Inelement is structured as an extended suite, where each part leads to the nextthematically, with the reference to the elements, and sonically, with the expansive possibilities of the studio space and its potential to enhance the experience. "Everywhere & Nowhere: Void" and the following "Kaleidophonia" develop as dramatic choral compositions, rich in detail and colors; still, their complex and nuanced structures are characterized by both a reserved and calm atmosphere. The passionate, Latin-tinged "Always Changing: Water" sounds like a mysterious magical ritual that seduces the spirits to this world. Lastman's solo vocal piece, "Borealis," continues in this vein and sketches a song-like, choral wordless prayer.
The closing "Beyond These Things: All Elements" features elaborate vocal-harmonized improvisations shaped by the inventive orchestration of the string instruments. It surprises with its refreshing originality; it is almost like rediscovering Stephan Micus' early ECM albums, but with deeper, more expansive vocalizations.
It is a beautiful, mysterious journey.
On the Root: Earth; Luminar: Fire; Everywhere & Nowhere: Void;
Kaleidophonia; Always Changing: Water; Immensity: Air; Borealis.
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