We Built This City on Tectonic Foundations

American player Liz Allbee is a firm favourite in these pages since 2005 and her first release for Resipiscent…trumpet player she be who has exhibited her strain of wildness in various free playing, improv, and unclassifiable groups of liveliness around the West Coast, although on today’s item Rille (RELATIVE PITCH RECORDS RPR1124) she’s starting to exhibit skills in an electro-acoustic zone, one of her own making, with these seven beguiling and mysterious pieces made with her regular trumpet and something called the “quadraphonic trumpet”, which hopefully is a modified instrument equipped with four separate bells.

She also has electronics and field recordings layered into these understated and perplexing mixes, and some home-made instruments…plus of course, her own voice, here adding poetic-mode recits in a breathy whispered tone, imparting tiny amounts of strange information in her unassuming manner, almost icily distant while she still expects the listener to follow her on these quests. In among these abstracted drones, these processed surfaces, these delicately-etched landscapes, only occasionally will we hear anything resembling a conventional “trumpet solo”, and even then – as on the chilling ‘Walls & Windows’ – it emerges as a plaintive cry of melancholy and lostness. The deliberation and care with which she assembles these glacial, minimal sounds will certainly appeal to fans of Pauline Oliveros, but ultimately Allbee is reaching for a personal statement rather than a compositional exercise, and every moment on Rille succeeds in conveying an aspect or dimension of her interior spaces, touching on difficult emotions associated with loneliness and fear, while at the same time creating compelling atmospheres and moods with their insistent repetitions and sustained droning elements. Kudos also to any musician who namechecks Kaspar Hauser, as she does on track 6, either paying homage to the incredible 1974 film by Werner Herzog, or to the real-life foundling and naive artist beloved by all followers of marginal and obscure talent…perhaps Albee too wishes to align herself with Hauser’s solitude and singularity to some degree…

A superb release, personal and touching, very human music. From 10 January 2022.

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