as is – Monica Brooks and Laura Altman push sound around a room.
as is is another stunning little gem from the prophetically titled It’ll be awesome label.
This time we have Monica Brooks and Laura Altman playing accordion and clarinet respectively. Five tracks, each pressing the instruments as far as they can go with the shrieks of the clarinet posited in perfect balance against the dark wind-infused accordion each track building to a deeper connection with the sound till they dip into a subdued reverie on track 4 only to come back stronger and more melodic on track 5. An unlikely match made in heave, the accordion and clarinet meet each other with pitch perfect visitations, each morphing into the other then splitting again as if each sound remembers its source.
“As Is” is a legal term used to disclaim some implied warranties on an item sold. You buy it “as is” and what you see is what you get. It is also a rough translation of the French avant-garde literature magazine Tel Quel. The foci of the writings of Tel Quel varied, but, as one might read in its name, most writings meant to inscribe what is as it is, emphasizing the metaphor of all language and the deconstruction of control systems set to normalize the masses. Given both these definitions, the title is perfectly placed here. as is is both the bare object-base essential of each instrument, while at the same time being a metaphor of sound involved in the deconstruction of control systems set to normalize sound / music. For all its subversive gentleness, this is a disc in control of its message at every pulsing point.
Track 2 is my favourite on the disc. It’s feathered floating from the clarinet is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard gently supported by the strength and the weight of the accordion sound beneath it. As the track progresses in all its simplicity a complex dance is emerging between the sounds, a play for the delicate, tripping into an almost oriental sound at times then gently pulling back and away from the temptations of melody.
Track 3 moves the dance closer together as each instrument plays to each others sound rather than complement the space. Accordion, often barely recognisable in earlier tracks, becomes apparent here reaching pitch perfectly aligned with the clarinet. Sounds are long and drawn out, almost stretched along the threads of air that sustain them. Its inside the sound you remember both these instruments rely on the movement of air despite relating differently to the musicians.
The sound is pared back again for track 4, the sounds more abstract and the relationship between them complimentary and exposing. The relationship here is less like a dance and more like a collaborative conversation. Unlike the complex relationship between writing and the subjective however, sound conversations are able to speak beyond the problem of words. Subjectivity becomes the beautiful here as each sound fulfils its own self expression,
As teaser I’ve given you here tracks 1 and 5 – not the tracks I describe above. You will just have to leap in line and grab yourself a copy of this magical disc in order to hear the rest. Get a copy here.