Marilyn Lerner

Luminance

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AllMusic Review by

This first solo outing for Queen Mab pianist Marilyn Lerner takes a somewhat different form, but you will have to be very attentive in order not to miss it. The improviser has worked with Avatar Studios' resident sound engineer, Steeve Lebrasseur, to try to coax out of the old Grand some new sounds without resorting to preparations that involve extraneous objects. Lebrasseur, who had already worked his magic on guitarist René Lussier's two late-'90s solo CDs (Solos de Guitare Électrique and Deboutonné), uses a number of different microphones -- from hi-fi to very cheap -- that he places in creative locations. In this particular case, some pieces have been recorded with two microphones put very close to the strings, or behind the performer, or in an adjacent room with a four-inch loudspeaker relaying their capture under the piano for extra resonance. The most surprising piece in that regard is "Codec Moment," where a cheap dictaphone microphone is placed across the room, providing a distorted image that interferes with the one captured by the two hi-fi mics placed inside the piano. And truth be told, it is also the only track where Lebrasseur's touch is easily witnessed. Most of everything else will be lost on a regular living room stereo system. Luckily, Lerner's music doesn't require creative sound engineering to be engaging. Her background in jazz and Klezmer resurface at various points in the course of these short pieces, giving her more abstract improvisations and experimentations a human face. She performs "La Boxe" ("Boxing") with her fingers knocking on the frame of the instrument while keeping the sustain pedal depressed. In "Eerie" she scratches the strings to produce long growls. But in the other pieces she plays the piano, letting her very personal language unfold, a language that recalls both Paul Bley and Irène Schweitzer.

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