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Album Review

Sylvie Courvoisier / Mary Halvorson: Searching for the Disappeared Hour

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Sylvie Courvoisier / Mary Halvorson: Searching for the Disappeared Hour
Here pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitarist Mary Halvorson come together for the second time on record in a set of amorphous, ever-changing music that combines their two distinctive approaches into something unique.

The musicians' individual sounds are very complimentary as Halvorson's strums and swoops interlock tightly with Courvoisier's precise notes. Together they show a friskiness not often heard in their individual work. Their playing has a dreamy, disoriented surface that sounds like other-dimensional cocktail music and often embeds bits of familiar themes. Halvorson's strumming fills in the spaces between Courvoisier's formal ascending runs on "Golden Proportions" in a meshing of sounds that ends by referencing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." On "Lulu's Second Theorem" a quizzical piano figure tangles with glassy guitar notes before the music slows into still and desolate sounds that could have come from the soundtrack of some 1950s' science fiction film.

"Moonbow" takes a turn into tropical exotica as the guitar slowly unfolds in waves and the piano responds with icy shards of sound. The result sounds like a woozy version of Eddie Heywood's "Canadian Sunset" before it explodes into a whooping blast of electronic noise. "Torrential" is a noirish blend of moody guitar twang and ominous piano melody that works in a hint of "The Third Man Theme." The album's title track is dreamlike trance music full of echoes, repetitions and warped guitar effects. "Faceless Smears" combines wobbly guitar slides and uneasy piano notes into an off-center Mediterranean ballad theme that unravels in jagged agitation, while "Gates & Passes" injects a similarly ominous soundscape with a feeling of tenderness.

This record is a mixture of dark moods and brooding quiet studded with gritty bits of noise and drama. Courvoisier and Halvorson have a chemistry that brings out something new in both of them. The sounds they make here are both familiar and alien at the same time. This is a totally involving and, in its own warped way, beautiful session of music.

Track Listing

Golden Proportion; Lulu's Second Theorem; Faceless Smears; Four-Point Play; Moonbow; Torrential; Mind Out of Time; Party Dress; Bent Yellow; The Disappearing Hour; Gates & Passes; Blizzard Rings.

Personnel

Mary Halvorson: guitar; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano.

Album information

Title: Searching for the Disappeared Hour | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records

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