Elke Schlipper

Sound Poetry

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She calls it Sound Poetry, and that is as apt a characterization as any, as Elke Schipper (who may be best known for her work with violinist Jon Rose) creates what might also be described as sound vignettes, as she twists, contorts, and squeezes tubes of auditory vibrations as if they were toothpaste. Most of the time -- though not always -- the sounds are wordless: she doesn't scat (at least in the traditional way) but creates what is her own vocabulary. Even when actual words appear to be uttered, it is not the meaning of words that matters but the way Schipper speaks them. Günter Christmann is a perfect partner, whether on cello or trombone, as he scratches with animal-like intensity. The sounds from his instruments are transformed into something alien yet logically abstract. Simply forget the way a trombone or cello is supposed to be -- but forget also the way a voice is supposed to sound. The vocalist is a master alchemist as she growls and spits up and down the scales. On the powerful "Collegno Cholerico," Schipper barks aggressively in German, setting a tone of forceful exposure. She then launches into a show of guttural sounds on "Gram," where she explodes from deep inside the throat. As is the case with Christmann, Schipper seems to travel down a road without signposts: she may (or may not) know where she is going, but the journey is fun while it lasts.

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