Ozone Tongues

Team-up of two New Yorkers of modern music on Pulsing Dot (CLANG CLANG054) …Dafna Napthali vocalises, and does real-time processing of sound and makes electronic noises, while Gordon Beeferman plays the piano. It’s described as “kinetic sound processing” and “polyphonic disturbances”, and I think the process that is most relevant is that of the interaction between the two, which seems to go on continuously in a very pro-active back-and-forth manner, cascading down as well as feeding upwards (if we can apply management-speak cliches to the situation). It’s all improvised, too, so there’s evidently a lot of quick thinking and even quicker actions going down in the James L. Dolan recording studio on this 2014 sesh.

The pair of them share a love of avant-garde jazz and modern music, and many other “experimental vocal and instrumental traditions”. Beeferman evidently relishes the challenge of trying to keep up with the rhythmic challenges set by Napthali and her free-form vocals, and of course the crazy interpolations of her electronic sound (she does it with Max/MSP). For her part, Napthali loves the fact that they can “go in any musical direction and find communication”. These six tracks are quite long, as the pair need room to stretch and begin their explorations, but once they find the sweet spot they tend to pretty much stay in the same place.

Some aspects make this album less than completely satisfactory – the sameiness of the sound, which while starting out highly unusual becomes familiar surprisingly quickly; the diffuseness of each performance, with no apparent boundaries or shared clarity of intention; the uniformly sluggish pace of each tune. As a duo they’ve clearly developed something all their own, and spent a lot of time doing it; maybe they’ve grown a little too much at ease with what they do. On the plus side, there is much craft in Gordon Beeferman’s complex piano trills, and in Dafna Napthali’s vocal extemporisations (though I enjoyed her a lot more on the 2010 album Chatter Blip, made for Acheulian Handaxe). From 16th August 2017.

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