Sylvia Hallett

White Fog

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Even though White Fog is Sylvia Hallett's third solo CD, this is a first for the British free improv label Emanem: In almost 30 years of existence, it had never released an album including lyrics, nor extended sound art techniques. White Fog is a beautiful album, but it may have difficulties finding its public. The CD contains three works. First is "Wheelsongs," a gripping cycle of improvised songs (with written lyrics), accompanied by bowed bicycle wheel. You read right: These captivating plaintive sounds that form a rich shroud emanate from wheel spokes. Digital delay boxes are used to create soundscapes -- their manipulation is not seamless, but the crude use of the technology enhances the fragility of Hallett's voice, often bringing to mind Anna Homler. "Violet" and "White Fog" are two highlights. "The Onyx Rook" is a ritualistic-like improvisation on violin and voice, a very fine example of the woman's performing abilities. The set closes with "Snail and Curlew," a sound collage piece. Made of water, bird, and vocal sounds for the most part, it also includes electro-acoustic sounds, synthesized sounds, and even fragments of tunes. Gradually moving from one dreamy state of consciousness to another, the piece offers an interesting aural journey, but fails to strike the imagination as strongly as the opening cycle. This CD is worth hearing for "Wheelsongs" alone, especially for fans of Homler or other delicate feminine voices of the avant-garde.

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