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Monday, May 10, 2021

Audrey Lauro/Giotis Damianidis ‎– Dark Ballads (Silent Water/Mr. Nakayasi, 2021) ****

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Many words have been written about how our close environment (the water that we drink, surrounding trees, the sea, the weather conditions of course) reflect on us. Dark Ballads, the duo recording of Audrey Lauro on alto sax and Giotis Damianidis on electric guitar, seems to takes inspiration (“a mineral evocation of the intimate” as we can read about the LP) from all this, the feelings that minerals, the soil of Earth evokes in all of us.

Dark Ballads consists of six fragile tracks, three of them named after minerals. On the notes about this LP we can also read about the inner landscapes of the two. Adding to this thought, I might say that those six tracks (clocking on around thirty five minutes) are the audio results of their inner landscape. Dark Ballads is based on feelings and atmosphere and, of course, on the interaction of the two. Each track seems like a small linear journey that is continued on the next one. Electric guitar and saxophone have been a combination of choice for many duos but here there’s a difference. The focus is not on the energy of electricity and how it also translates, or moves in a parallel manner, through the gnarls and howls of the saxophone.

This is about the ambience, the atmosphere, emotions that are carved out by the two musicians. Thirty five minutes might seem a little short in duration, but Dark Ballads feels so full of the weight of the feelings, that the listener gets the impression of being overwhelmed –always in a positive way. This release is a slow beast. It conjures of ways to grasp you, take a hold of your thoughts until you are focused only to its six tracks. It succeeds for sure.

Music can be entertaining, a joy, maybe even make you laugh and of course urge you to dance your ass off. But it can also drag you deeper, reflecting on thoughts, memories, ideas, feelings. Dark Ballads is as dark it can get and (that’s a big personal compliment) it makes it really difficult to categorize it. Like those overwhelming feelings of joy and sadness together. Strong feelings coming from no apparent source other than your soul.