Mary Halvorson / Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone / Jessica Pavone

Prairies

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An aspect of our world that is in direct contrast to the image of prairies is the settled society, the neighborhoods, each house with its window into which the passerby -- hopefully not a peeping Tom -- could have a glimpse into someone's distinct personal universe. Each of these windows represents, possibly and most likely, a world of its own. The episodic nature of this duo's music, created with a combination of electric guitar, viola, and some vocalizing, brings to mind the previous image, pieces such as the appropriately titled "One Day in August" likely to unfold in a manner that is more like life itself than the traditional norms of instrumental composition. As for instruments themselves, any combination can represent a world of its own as well. A successful musical venture -- and this duo of Jessica Pavone and Mary Halvorson is most decidedly that -- sets up its own property lines, ruling out the possibility of any other instrumental voices being "missed" with a lot more success than ranchers have keeping out rustlers on the prairies. Out in Kansas the early settlers had to dig up huge rocks to pile up to make their fences due to a lack of trees; these enormous piles of stone certainly can be compared to Halvorson's guitar sound, the buoyancy of which also brought to mind the memory of a Slovenian man leaping off the top of a high rise into an enormous cushion that had been inflated on the plaza below him. The viola, wrapping itself taut around Halvorson's unwavering rhythm, bounces back to the early Kansas fences, barbed wire being something avant-garde string players get compared to with the regularity of babies' cheeks and rosy red apples. The manner in which the instruments will be played, again suggesting determined boundaries of "in" and "out," traditional and non-traditional techniques, music or noise, is one of the most sonically vivid aspects of the episodes or windows the listener is looking into. The sense of the individual pieces, somewhat miniatures in that a total of 13 are on the CD play list, takes on further sensibility with repeated listenings. The initial encounter focuses in some cases on the starkest contrasts, as if a glance into a window had revealed a person passing by who is holding several large, lit candles.

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