Lauren Newton

Altered Egos

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Lauren Newton, Patrick Scheyder, and Vladimir Tarasov had already played with each other at the time of this live performance, but this recording actually captures the first time they all shared the same stage. Although no one is credited as the leader of this date, Newton appears to be (quite involuntarily) in the driver's seat. The singer uses her vocal abilities and extended technique to the fullest, producing onomatopoeia, stretching her notes, educing spooky sounds, and even playing with actual words -- all with total control and perfect delivery. Drummer Tarasov, a former member of the Ganelin Trio, has seldom displayed so much restraint by means of mallets and brushes. Scheyder, a classically-trained pianist, adds drama and makes skillful use of dissonance and atonality. The pieces are totally improvised and always follow an organic progression. The musicians avoid self-indulgence and articulate their ideas carefully without shunning spontaneity. This results in fascinating conversations, such as the wonderful duet pairing Newton with Tarasov in the second half of "Between the Lines," in which the two keep pushing each other to reach one of the most climactic segments of the set. Despite some dark shadings, Altered Egos has an unpretentious and uplifting feel that gives the music an ethereal lightness. Undoubtedly, it ranks among Newton's best -- and most accessible -- works.

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