The combination of spoken words and musical improvisations may bring up associations with the Beat poets and some of their free jazz experiments, but that is far from the effect Paul Griffiths and Frances-Marie Uitti achieve in There Is Still Time, their 2004 release in ECM's New Series. These scenes for speaking voice and cello have a bleak existential quality that moves them into a different direction and are perhaps more like the spare monologs of Samuel Beckett than anything else. Griffiths' haltingly paced recitations of his austere, introspective texts is by turns fragile, morose, excited, and agonized -- not exactly a theatrical performance, but certainly dramatic in its intensity and haunting in its suggestiveness. By far the creepiest track is "my one fear," delivered by Griffiths in a whisper that is invasively intimate. Uitti's cello accompaniment consists largely of drones on open fifths, ringing pizzicati, skittering gestures, and electronically amplified overtones, manipulated by the engineer, Manfred Eicher; and her tone is most often subdued, except for the violent col legno outbursts in the final piece, "when this is over." This is a gloomy album, even frightening in its desolation, but one that may appeal to ECM's loyal avant-garde following. The reproduction is always clear, while the music ranges from close-up to remote and ethereal.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|There is Still Time, scenes for speaking voice & cello|