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Joan Jeanrenaud: Visual Music

Dan McClenaghan By

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Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud spent more than twenty years as a member of the experimental and always innovative Kronos Quartet. She left the group in 1999, and has since created an adventurous and captivating body work, including four previous CD releases, including the Grammy-nominated Strange Toys ( Talking House Records, 2008) and 2010's Pop-Pop (Deconet Records), in collaboration with percussionist/multi-instrumentalist PC Munoz.

As with all her recordings, Visible Music is a work of art that was created without consideration to labels. It is very much a studio creation, with the cellist often recording, via multi-tracking separate cello lines, with the bow or the occasional percussive pizzicato, then weaving them together, then adding a variety of percussion modes: PC Munoz' African thumb piano parts and drums on "Harmonic Harlem" and "Harlem Strut," respectively, or his cajon, or William Winant's wood blocks or vibraphone.

These seventeen compositions—all Jeanrenaud's—are evocative, like finely crafted pieces of flash fiction, stories that are by turns stark and mournful (the opener, "Solo Prelude"), pensive and atmospheric ("Harmonic Harlem"), ponderous and haunting ("Isola," with its deep, rich sonorities), or an urgent, even desperate, view-from-a-car-speeding-through-a-desolate-lanscape "Dead Reckoning," that sounds like a part of a soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Joan Jeanrenaud has taken, since her exit from the Kronos Quartet, a consistently experimental path in making music. Visible Music is a cohesive aural statement—she could have called it a suite: cellos and percussion delving into a gorgeous unknown. It's an experiment that succeeds via the artist's willingness to take chances combined with her focused and unwavering vision and her original voice.

Track Listing: Solo Prelude; Pilasters; Harmonic Harlem; Isola; Spinario, Dead Reckoning; Hypocrite; Puzzle; St. Paul; Harlem Strut; Winter; Oulipo; This Is Not A Duet; Bacchanal; Moon Above; Virgin & Child; Ethereal Tree.

Personnel: Joan Jeanrenaud: cello; PC Munoz: Marimbata (3), cajon (6); drum kit (10); William Winant: Vibraphone (8), Dohee Lee, recorder, electronics (4).

Title: Visual Music | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Deconetrecords

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