On Dizziness cs786









Now continuing what seems to be a recent arc of increasing vocal emphasis here: On Dizziness was recorded (on a single date) in London in June 2022, featuring a trio of vocalists, two also employing instruments in synergy: Maggie Nicols, Caroline Kraabel (with alto sax) & Charlotte Hug (with viola). Indeed I'd been paying extra attention to combinations of extended vocalists here — beyond, at one point, musing about reviewing "all" vocalizing albums... — & here the interactions are especially evocative & potent. Pace the sort of "tangential" style I'd just described in the previous entry, expression continues through & across voices & instruments, sometimes almost seamlessly (with e.g. Hug's vocal "pizzicato" as especially striking...), but also intertwining & twisting into various (collective) expressive shapes. (I'd recently noted "twisting" e.g. explicitly of Voix en Rhizome for Vèrs revèrs, as part of a lengthy April entry... but here we hear more a trio of soloists.) And I'd noted Nicols (b.1948, e.g. founder of "Feminist Improvising Group" in 1977) here already, e.g. in Les Diaboliques, pace a note on A Woman's Work (from a February 2017 review of Joëlle Léandre in Tiger Trio....), but her usual expression is so much more textual & even theatrical (& as regularly noted, humorous). This is very true of e.g. her recent (2022) solo double album on Otoroku, Are You Ready?, apparently accompanying herself on piano, commenting on various social issues, recalling various popular tunes, rambling at times.... But On Dizziness — with titles derived from a poem by Jenny Xie (2019, included as well in the physical materials) — presents quite differently, offering few words itself (amid its poetic evocations...), pace a few quickly at the beginning, with some infrequent later flurries, but rather extended vocalizing (especially quasi-glissando figures...), both openly spacious & strongly expressive. (And notably original on the musical "nuts & bolts" level, pace the various allusions elsewhere. So this was a different side of Nicols for me.) I'd also noted Kraabel & Hug here: The former appears (also credited with voice, but not such that I'd really noticed...) as the baritone on the mouthful of an album called Music for Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics (plus various releases from LIO & the Remote Viewers...), while the latter appeared in this space with Stellari String Quartet (& Vulcan, as reviewed in May 2019), surely the most demonstrative of that otherwise relatively staid group. In fact, Hug apparently identifies in part as a human-siren hybrid, and evokes e.g. the leather community at times (while Nicols' first singing job was actually in a strip club, per her bio...). In any case, the combination yields a broadly spacious liminality, paradoxically arcing with wild intensity. Moreover, it turns out that this isn't this trio's first album together, Transitions having been released on Emanem back in 2002. (That's probably the era of music history that's darkest for me, as the institutions had already dropped the ball, while many of the intervening smaller publishers haven't put much online to this point.... On a more personal level, this was probably the peak of my child-rearing time commitment too. Anyway, that album also followed the first burst of releases from Les Diaboliques....) So a sense of "transitions" certainly continues to apply to On Dizziness, even as there's no explicit label of Transitions Trio (a name I do see elsewhere...). And the sort of open field conjured here might well yield some dizziness as well: Not having heard the earlier album until now, there was certainly some disorientation before the music came together for me, at which point... the disorientation returns as a feature! (The "expressive tangents" thoughts from the previous entry were initially provoked here. And this is then a less role-bound, i.e. more tangents-filled, or rhizomatic, articulation....) Drifting dreaming, sometimes intensely (sometimes hauntingly...), but never really settling, always in motion.... Despite the feel for space, despite the considerable length, the expression never feels slack either. (The first Transitions album, which I found on the used market, can be surprisingly taut & fresh as well — although with fewer vocal contributions yet from others there.) And since vocal albums are seemingly very much a theme this year here, let me go on explicitly to contrast with a couple of other recent favorites (both recorded last November, so in fact five months later...): Rune Kitchen has an often earthy, quasi-primitivist vibe, while L'âge de l'oreille is intimately dark (internalizing even, pace the simmering Light air still gets dark again...), but On Dizziness is bright (maybe even fiery...), open & airy, soon becoming crisply inexorable in its blur of vertigo: Xie is then waiting to tell us why (& how) this is a sensible (or sensitive) response to the present state of the world — & maybe to all (always already in motion anyway) states of the world. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts