Prior to this release, Lauren Newton had been rather quiet, especially when compared to her recorded output from the early to mid-'90s. It seems she had been busy stripping down her vocal art, exploring more quiet and abstract forms. Out of Sound finds her in great company with bassist Joëlle Léandre and saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, who himself has been applying more restraint on his playing to reach new levels of intensity (see the magnificent CD Wing Vane with Jacques Demierre and Barre Phillips). Recorded in a German studio on March 16, 2001, this album presents a collection of short improvisations dealing with the grey area where silence and sound meet, where music still takes an undefined shape, although not completely immersing itself in microsound aesthetics. Outbursts are rare ("Trio Boom" is one eloquent exception) and usually startling. Newton sounds like she's singing in her sleep, uttering the meaningless syllables of a drunk madwoman, at times hitting a brief moment of clarity when a few words, almost sentences, are spoken (a quasi-coherent discourse in "I Think..."). Part Phil Minton, part Sainkho Namchylak, she reaches deep inside of her to produce vocal sounds from another age. Léandre and Leimgruber follow her lead, wrestling to see who can be the most transparent. The music is born out of silence -- "Out of Sound," the first track, begins with very faint sounds in the upper register of the bass and saxophone -- and returns to silence in the last track. This gesture of coming full circle may be old as the world, yet it remains the best way to give an album a sense of completion and cohesion. Recommended.