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Monday, September 29, 2008

Lotte Anker, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ikue Mori - Alien Huddle (Intakt, 2008) ****

With the risk of being accused of being a male chauvinist, I would say this is very female avant-garde jazz, not only by the pink color on the album cover, but also by the subtlety and fragility of the music. Lotte Anker is a Danish saxophonist, mainly trained in jazz, Sylvie Courvoisier a Swiss pianist, mainly trained in classical music, Ikue Mori is a Japanese drum machine specialist, now a real-time electronic laptop music wizard. On "Alien Huddle", the trio brings highly unusual music, giving impressions of birds, not as such, but in their natural environment: sparrows, owls, herons, swan, rooster, raven, crow, ostrich, blackbird, yet without being too literal in the evocation, or too programmatic in the performance. While on many tracks Courvoisier and Mori create short, rustling, shuffling, bleepy or thundering sounds, with Courvoisier more often plucking her strings directly than using her keys, the fact that the sax's performance stretches the notes, gives a quite accessible (relatively speaking) feel to the music, almost redefining the rhythm section for modern music and its interplay with a solo instrument. The interactions are organic, immediate, full of surprises and wild thought jumps. Despite the similarity of approach throughout the album, each track has its own coherence and unique identity. The music is unusual, but it has an intense and highly concentrated beauty.

© stef