christian kiefer & jefferson pitcher To All Dead Sailors (CD, £3.50)label: camera obscura
A collection of songs, instrumentals, and sonic experiments, this is an album that explores the mystery of the sea: its violence, its beauty, its grace. Through it all, the album tells the story of the men who have chosen a life and ultimately a death in its vast expanses. From the story of a haggard submarine captain disgraced amongst his countrymen to the lonely sound of the ship's engine room to the tale (borrowed from Pablo Neruda) of a mermaid wandering onto dry land and into a world she could not have imagined, these are songs and sounds that envelop the listener in a long rumination on things of the sea. Merging songs with more experimental sounds has long been of interest to both musicians. Pitcher developed his experimental performance as a member of Tintinambulate, a free-improv workshop based in upstate New York and featuring legendary avant-garde musician Pauline Oliveros. His previous albums, including the superb ambient song cycle "I Am Not in Spain", move between songs and sonic textures, displaying his ongoing interest in using sound to create a particular sonic space or location. Pitcher's work is mirrored in Kiefer's, who has a long history of alternating between song and experimental forms, including his recent albums "Czar Nicholas Is Dead" (a mostly-instrumental look at the Russian Revolution) and "Dogs & Donkeys" (a song-based narrative).
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