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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart - Zenith/Nadir (Tripticks Tapes, 2022)

Amirtha Kidambi and Luke Stewart freely play seven environments for voice, bass, pedals, and amplifier on the 43’ Zenith/Nadir.

This is the first time they’ve released a recording together.

The context guides towards a motif of high and low. The words in the title carry not just a location but a quality, specifically of power and fortune. And the notes reveal the recording occurred in the months following George Floyd’s murder, in which intense despair and hope coexisted, for the truth of the matter and that it might finally provoke meaningful change. The sound reflects perhaps similarly polar things in several ways. In electric and acoustic sides. In the registers of this voice and bass. In peaks and troughs of electric current and pulsing resonances.

The fiery electric half hisses and pops like oil in a pan at its most simmering moments, maintaining through high volume, high density, or even just crackling pitch clarity a volatile presence. Bottle-rocket woos and EVP ululations accompany feedback freakouts. Maqamesque lines interlace over deep bass drones. Vocals choke alongside purring motor amplifier. Syncopation from distortion clipping for dystopian funk.

The subtler sounds of the acoustic side make clearer what was also in the first, that these two move together and complement each other in volume, density, and texture. But beyond the mellifluousness of its angelic chorus or plucked lyricism, melodic song or melancholy arco intonations, this half allows space for the sonorous resonance of bass’ big body and the rich harmonic depth of a full formant to interact.

I have a hunch this is the point. To not just present poles but the interaction or complementary action of them. From the complex feelings surrounding the context to the nearness of the words on the page in the title and the relativism of their meanings to the general principle of an improvising duo, the vibrancy of things is what is in between.


TK Masuda said...

What does "43'" mean? Is the performance space 43 feet long? I don't get it.