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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Alexey Lapin & Yuri Yaremchuk - Anatomy Of Sound (SoLyd Records, 2010) ****½

Russian Alexey Lapin plays piano and Ukrianian Yuri Yaremchuk plays soprano sax and bass clarinet. Both musicians master their instruments inside out, but their musical vision is even stronger. The title "Anatomy Of Sound" may seem somewhat overambitious or pretentious, but when you hear the album, this is indeed what you get.

The first track "Anatomy of Sound : Birth" starts with barely audible tones, vulnerable like a new-born, coming out of the clarinet, with sparse plucks on the piano strings in accompaniment. The piece is fresh, open-ended, full of surprise and wonder in the sounds themselves. For non-accustomed listeners, the opener may sound off-putting, but with the next piece, "Transformations", lyricism enters, in an abstract form, first naive, then moving into a yearning and passionate delivery. "Transmutations" is even more direct, with raw interaction of sax blasts and heavy chords, dissonant yet fully controlled and meaningful, full of inherent beauty and emotion. The intensity is hard to believe at moments.

"Transconfigurations" is calmer, with bass clarinet as the lead instrument, with sparse sounds, yet again nothing is done without purpose or without utter concentration: each note has its place, each phrase its value, with sounds that are sometimes in stark contrast : soft piano with deep blasts on the clarinet, or vice-versa, and the ease with which the two musicians move forward together to create their quite unique interaction is at moments mind-boggling. They don't actually dialogue, they create music together, immediately delivered as a unity, and sometimes with such uncanny precision that you assume that there must have been agreements before or notations lying somewhere, but I've been fooled by that before : some musicians can do this while improvising.

The album ends with two solo pieces: on "The Bottom", Lapin shows the breadth of his piano skills, hypnotic, thundering and refined, with light touches of the right hand ending the improvisation with a sound of relief. On "Epilogue", Yaremchuk demonstrates his skills on the bass clarinet, using multiphonics, overtones and tongue-slapping, resulting in eery sounds, yet captivating and touching, without urgency, but with careful development. Strangely enough, the epilogue ends with tones quite easily ressembling the first notes of "Birth", the circle is closed.

Even regardless of the album's intention, these are two musicians who can tell a story, who can hold the attention by bringing a unity of sound, full of new perspectives and approaches, full of an incredible expressivity and forward motion.

A rich listening experience.

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© stef