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Audio CD, April 29, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

"Listen to any track on this album. Have you ever heard someone else who sings like Azure Carter? I sure haven't. Have you heard anyone who plays as a wide range of instruments, with such gleeful abandon, as Alan Sondheim does? Me neither. Put them together and this may be the most original and unique sound to come along in years, even decades perhaps. Carter's lyrics are, I am told, related to and/or inspired by Second Life, an online virtual world. That may have significance for some, perhaps even great significance, but even a Luddite such as myself can enjoy them and interpret them in the context of meatbag life: longings for contact and connection, deconstructions of our strategies for satisfying that longing, self-analyses and reflection. Between the conundrums and quirks of that search and the restless music underpinning them, this is an album of unease, of a hypermodern sense of overwhelming possibility, even though sometimes Carter's cadences sound eerily like Psalms or the Song of Solomon (you can hear this right off the bat on "Among the Ferns"). About that music. Alan Sondheim, an underground icon from the '60s thanks to a 1967 debut album on Riverboat that made the infamous Nurse With Wound list, followed up with two albums on notorious outsider label ESP-Disk', has made a 21st-century comeback (in the interim, he established himself as an academic pioneering cyberspace theory). His improvised music resists all genre labels, though one can hear, in the sounds of the instruments chosen if not always the non-traditional techniques he uses to play them, so-called world music; on the tracks Ed Schneider and Chris Diasparra play on, there are traces of jazz in their contributions; and Sondheim's early blues roots shine through on "Credo." It is music based on gesture and timbre rather than harmony and/or melody, and rhythmically abjures beats. "That 'mama heartbeat,' that 'bom-bom-bom' . it's so boring, it's so banal," Don Van Vliet AKA Captain Beefheart once said. "I want things to change like the patterns and shadows that fall from the sun." Sondheim's improvisations are like that, except as though played by a metabolism operating at a faster rate of speed, or filmed and fast-forwarded." Azure Carter is an artist, educator, and singer/songwriter. When she isn't collaborating on music, video, or performance with her partner, Alan Sondheim, she is busy studying education theory or working on an on-going performance/video piece, The Fairyland Around Us, based on the writings of the early 20th century naturalist, Opal Whitely. Before moving to Providence, Carter lived in NYC and performed at numerous venues in the city and elsewhere, including the 92nd Street Y, Dance New Amsterdam, The Bowery Poetry Club, Eyebeam, Jack, and Highwire Gallery. In 2012, Fire Museum produced Cauldron, with Carter, Helena Espvall, and Sondheim, an album of improvisations and song- forms.
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