Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sarah Bernstein's Unearthish: Duets with Satoshi Takeishi

Sarah Bernstein, as I wrote several days ago in my review of the first Iron Dog Field Recordings (see posting below), doesn't do what you expect. And after a while that "not doing" is a "doing." There is style in what she does.

Unearthish (Phase Frame Music 001), a set of duets with drummer-percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, shows you how. It proceeds along a kind of three-pronged axis, if you can get into that: there is the pan-world drumming percussion of Takeishi, focused pulses and feels using the drum set and all manner of percussion instruments; there's the violin of Sarah's, structurally central to everything as an improvisational pivot and compositional articulator; then there are Sarah's vocals, recitations of prose poems having to do with experiencing life on the personal and cosmic-connectedness level. She's not really like Laurie Anderson except that there is a personally performative aspect. It is a conceptual place where recitation, singing-chanting, vocal improvisation and abstracted personal narrative join with key violin parts and percussion synchronizations.

The Iron Dogs recording (thus far volume one) is heavier electrically; Unearthish is acoustic and more like a trans-world sort of music, music by a key ensemble of the griots of New York, so to say.

It's a kind of conceptual-performance art. It comes out of the anguish of the experiential present and the transcendence possible, a way out. And it has the stamp of originality on it . . . Sarah's . . . Satoshi's.

It seems to me that what Sarah Bernsetin is doing right now is important to the place we are in. And if that's so, it is important that she be listened to and appreciated as a part of the Zeitgeist of our present. In other words, this is something you should listen to a bunch of times.

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