Stylistic and atmospheric shifts occur frequently and abruptly on This Is What It's Like To Be, derived from a combination of skill and poor recording techniques. Saxophonist/flutist Jessica Lurie and drummer/percussionist Andrew Drury recorded four tracks in their basement "studio, and five others were captured live in varying locales. Though the result turns out rather disjointed, it's an interesting amalgamation of the various ways these two instruments can interact and interpret the music they make together, as well as apart.
Lurie lays down a groove full of funk to open the album, but after "Paprika she moves into less dancey terrain. In fact, the duo frequently casts aside its strong grasp on rhythm for less constricting options. On "411 someone makes warbling sounds with their voice followed by another vocal tone more squeaky and staccato. They sound like rare bird life trapped in an unkind world.
But most of the album is not this abstract. The duo appears to be on a quest for a compelling, dynamic sound that appeals to the listener's interest and curiosity. They're not shy with their instruments and try all kinds of things to get there, moving easily through heady improvisations.
They often act as propellers for each other like on "Boots, when Lurie plays a sassy line repeatedly, rallied by Drury's incessant cymbal rattle and side-of-the-drum tap. But their strengths as individuals comes forth on the album as well. On "Twitcher, Lurie slips into a complex dialogue, letting the momentum carry her as she makes her way around the mid-range of her horn. Drury, maintaining an unwavering beat, keeps things grounded as the two play against each other. The tune eventually gives way as Drury unleashes himself and lets himself go into a resounding vector full of ground-boring abundance.
By the time we reach track eight, "You Call This A Brigade?, they have become introverted into a quest of self-discovery as they take their separate routes of exploration. Lurie converses spontaneously with herself, while Drury shuffles around on his set picking out beats from shards of ringing bells and sticks on metal. They eventually meet back up at the beat, infusing the space with abundant energy fueled by speed, strength and multiphonics.
The outside sounds overheard on occasional tracks are too distracting, shifting the focus away from the music and toward the echoes of the room, which appears crowded with a chattering audience, giving the album the essence of a bootleg. Perhaps the pair meant for the crowd to provide a new, more textured dimension, but more likely a lack of funds precluded a properly produced release.
Jesscai Lurie: saxophone; Andrew Drury: percussion.
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