Franziska Baumann

Voice Sphere

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There is a lot to say when talking about Franziska Baumann's CD. A classically trained flutist and singer, she works with electronics and enjoys mountain climbing. The latter two activities come together in Voice Sphere. The music is interpreted live using a cybernetic glove she devised during a residency at STEIM (Amsterdam). The movements of her fingers, hand, and arm control a computer processing her voice in real time and mixing in pre-recorded material. The prepared segments were recorded while climbing glaciers: melting snow, icy surfaces, voices bouncing off the ice wall. The 13 short pieces (between one and seven minutes) presented on this album turn out to be surprisingly warm, even though they stem from the cold. Baumann's captivating voice evokes Fatima Miranda (the virtuosity) and Sainkho Namchylak (the creative use of extended techniques). The digital environment she created while singing is well integrated to the picture, rich and often fascinating, with few empty moments. The use of backward sounds in "Sphere II" appears a bit trivial, but that is an exception. "Blizzards," "Ice & Fire Plasma," and the opener, "Where All the Frozen Things Went" (which gives the album its subtitle) are all stunning pieces, immersive by the use of sound sources, alluring by the song of the siren. An enhanced portion of the CD includes Quicktime movies and a presentation of the technology used. Recommended, especially to fans of women's voices in avant-garde music (Catherine Jauniaux, Kira Vollman, and the aforementioned).

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