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Leila Bordreuil & Michael Foster: The Caustic Ballads

Hrayr Attarian By

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Leila Bordreuil & Michael Foster: The Caustic Ballads Brooklyn based Cellist Leila Bordreuil and saxophonist Michael Foster explore the emotional boundaries of tonality on the otherworldly and daring Caustic Ballads. The thirteen improvised duets, with their disturbing and poetic titles are abstract in their conception, intimately delivered and deeply visceral in their impact.

The hypnotic "Into the Peristyle of Love's Temple" for example conjures images of cavernous spaces with its ethereal and solemn opening. Bordreuil and Foster echo each other's prayer like phrases that transform into anguished whimpers and cries of pain. The passionate and dissonant exchange grows somber and quiet before the piece concludes cautious jubilation.

Overlapping sonic textures mark most of the album and create intriguing and stimulating patterns. The layering of saxophone's howls and the drone of furiously bowed strings make up the title track. Bordreuil and Foster's individual yet simultaneous expressions ebb and flow in energetic outbursts tinged with melancholy. The result is eerily moving.

Wistfulness also permeates the "Intimate Shrinkage Of My Body And The Castration Of My Life." After early jazz inspired bars Bordreuil's hushed con-arco and Foster's pops and soft groans evolve into a fiery and ardent dialogue that stirringly pushes musical boundaries.

The alternation of floods of furious notes with somber contemplation that forms the core of the album is perfected on the dramatic "Wherever The Organism Discharges Its Internal Rottenness." Bordreuil's percussive pizzicato provides an eerie and dark complement to Foster's spirited honks as the pair mix respective solos in a provocative sonic swirl. Gradually, as the vigor dissipates, pensive resonant moans become interspersed with silent pauses. The electrifying dialogue of tumultuous screeches and densely reverberating chords that follows leads to another austere, pleading conversation.

Neither Bordreuil nor Foster are novices at extemporization. She is known for her electroacoustic site specific compositions and has performed with a variety Avant-Garde artists. He is a master of musical experimentation and is an innovator at augmenting and distorting the sound of his saxophone. Although their collaboration is not for mainstream consumption, the curious minded and the open eared will find much that delights and excites on this singularly captivating release.

Track Listing: Born Of Its Own Asphyxiation; Pleasure And Cruelty; Intimate Shrinkage Of My Body And The Castration Of My Life; Caustic Ballads; Criminal Caresses I; Into The Peristyle Of Love’s Temple; Wherever The Organism Discharges Its Internal Rottenness; Your Strokes, My Shivers; Criminal Caresses II; Gimp; Throb; SpitPig; The Whip And The Body.

Personnel: Leila Bourdreuil: cello; Michael Foster: saxophone.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Relative Pitch Records


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