Unusual set of songs here by the duo Schwalbe & Elefant…Dalia Donadio sings, Linda Vogel plays the harp, and they deliver themselves of 15 well-crafted pieces on 2. Akt (WIDE EAR RECORDS WER040), their second LP which follows up Ich Als Du. There’s a printed lyric sheet, but everything is sung in Swiss-German; for the benefit of us poor English types, the press release mentions that we’re missing out on some clever wordplay and condensed narratives on these songs, which I’m prepared to believe given the extremely mannered way they’re performed. Donadio enunciates each syllable in a very precise manner, while she manages to find unexpected intervals in the tune which would have baffled Alban Berg. Vogel’s refined harp plucks are no less brittle, and even on those rare tunes where she manages to find a faint pulsebeat, there’s about as much swing feeling as you’ll find at a party of 100 year-old turtles wallowing at a mud-puddle party. Poise and elegance are the watchwords in these stiffly-articulated Euro-dramas, and they don’t waste breath extending a song any longer than necessary if it can be said in under two minutes.
The musical situation is supplemented by occasional guest spots from Tobias Meier (label owner) with his saxophone on two tracks, regular Wide Ear bassist Silvan Jeger, and drummer Lukas Mantel, but be warned this doesn’t turn the record into a jazz-canto thing by any means. In short, it’s very much in keeping with the aesthetic of this label – crisp, precise and orderly, yet not completely departing from the truth of human emotions and warmth. Can be procured on vinyl and CD both. From 14th January 2019.