Christine Abdelnour & Chris Corsano: Quand Fond La Neige, Où Va Le Blanc?
"The traditional mechanisms of saxophone and drums are abandoned for something weirder, less immediately identifiable and/or palatable, but a heck of a lot more interesting to listen to. Alto saxophonist Christine Abdelnour’s playing is more about texture and dynamics than rhythm and melody, and more-so, in that it’s fairly far removed from the free jazz idiom. You can hear her uncanny control over her breath and her instrument, as well as her acute awareness of how she’s interacting acoustically with the performance space.
Lots of free saxophone players experiment with extended techniques with varying degrees of success, but she takes it to another level entirely. Corsano is a savant in extended technique himself, this partnership with Abdelnour finds him particularly adventurous as he mixes in a healthy dose of his highly creative drumming with pure noise art, joining Abdelnour in producing several trebly, jagged sound sculptures.
The first piece is called “Opening Umbrellas Indoors” and finds the duo summoning all kinds of interesting sounds from their acoustic instruments.
Some instances of subjective pareidolia I heard are wind-up toys, industrial steam lines, saliva expressions, grima, chimes, hissing, bowed metal, flute, rattles, creaks, pops, etc. The second piece, “Sparrow’s Tea” really works over the tweeters. Here we get high pitch bowed metal squeal from Corsano as Abdelnour subjugates the altissimo register with circular breathing and fiery aggression. “Sitting Still While the House Next Door Burns” is more dynamically colorful. It traverses from a trembling drone on through a multiphonic phantasmagoria and into a rolling cascade of rhythm and squelch before again receding like an alien tide.
In “Below the Hull” Corsano is back to his bowed cymbal dissonance while Abdelnour operates somewhere between breathy multiphonics and the kinds of sounds I make getting at the last drop of an overpriced drink in a restaurant with a no-free-refills policy. On “The Mended Lid” the pair carries on an extended conversation in a choppy Cetacean vernacular that is spry upfront, but slows to a leisurely pace.
On “Sixth Hinge” Abedelnour honks and squeals around Corsanos resourceful, trundling aggregate. “Old Tales” is a prime example of the utility of Corsano’s drumming, finding him perfectly matching the seams of Abdelnour’s growling jigsaw puzzle piece with a heaping dose of bowed thrum and grit. On “Every Extra Thing” the duo opens up a bit and Corsano’s undulating and airy percussion is a welcome sound after the maelstrom of the preceding tracks. Abdelnour slashes at this soft bedding of rhythm with a complex timbre that growls and flutters. “Omit the Ninth Row” concludes the album with something that sounds like two mutant birds conversing at a railyard (again, a bit of subjectivity on my part). Minimal variation until the last couple of minutes, when it becomes even sparer, as if the birds have given up and patter away in grievant self-soliloquy.
The thing I enjoyed the most was the sheer timbral inventiveness of the duo. There are textures here that are seriously satisfying to listen to. Let’s hope they continue this collaboration and perhaps pull even more like-minded musicians into the fracas."