That Overt Desire of Object – Leandre and Greenlief produce sound as longing.

In the cover of That Overt Desire of Object, Phillip Greenlief explains conversations between him and collaborator Joelle Leandre often turn to the subject of greed and the way it impacts the world and the “malaise” it causes. (his words) This is the general feeling of unease or “feeling out of sorts” that greed and our desire for the material will cause us. There are many disciplines that explain the collection of the material is a desire to fill a void in life,  so when shopping is used as a form of escape it should be no surprise to find, once the purchase has been assimilated into our flawed environment, that the void remains  – despite our adding to it with land fill.

What a lovely idea then, to take that observation and turn it into beautiful music. Or rather, to have that conversation around the development of beautiful music. Two artists, whom (one presumes) fill their own voids with their music, discussing the endless sadness associated with the collection of the material. The album’s title (a twist on the Bunuel film) takes its breath and life from this idea, and one can only presume the theories discussed by the collaborators imbues the music as well. In my multiple listening I tried to make it out, but confess I got swept up into the music too much to be able to discern any direction toward message. Of course love of sound and the development of the ability to listen contain their own void-avoidance.

The track that comes closest to it is track 10, which I have added here.  Voice is added to the Jazz improv to allow for what seems to be two human creatures desperate to connect without the usual access to language. Or rather, connecting with an intense frustration around the deficiencies of their existing language.  (sound familiar?) But above and beyond all the philosophies, this is a jazz album and a beautiful one at that. One of the first brought out by new label Relative Pitch Records, who state they have started the label to support the work of musicians they respect and admire. They’ve done well to start here.  This is a lovely little experimental disc with some sublime moments on it. A particular favourite of mine was track 5, 2nd variation for Soprano Saxophone and Contrabass.  A steely hand of tradition imposes something in this track through the bass.  It felt like a battle of sorts between the smooth world of old jazz sound and the spiky implication of improv and deconstruction. I found myself returning to the track and its underlying cleverness over and over.

That Overt Desire of Object is the duo of bassist Joelle Leandre and woodwind improviser Phillip Greenlief in 11 variations for contrabass and woodwinds. AS I said above, they include their own voices as a sort of punctuation as the Suite progresses through some technical and unusual passages.  Greenleif switches between clarinet, soprano sax, and tenor saxophone. Greenleif did the production from two studio sessions.  Sexual tension abounds and a unique form of dialogue rises up between the two artists and their instruments. In many ways it is the interplay here that is the real pleasure. The overt imposition of each artists sexuation is a fascination inclusion. There is never a moment when we don’t know this is a man and woman at play with their assigned attributes as much as we are aware of two artists deep in the throes of improv. With so much of a push for a kind of androgyny in artistry, it was a fascinating listen to hear a male and a female playing around with the idea of being male and female.  The sessions writhe and twist between a combative narrative, an attempt to assert individuality and a completely sublime blending of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Greenleif struggles with his own desires for assertion while Leandre struggles against her passive adherence. The combination results in a unique experience of what can go on between female and male as each struggles with their sexuate differences.

I for one would really like to hear the duo take this further. I think an exploration of the separate entities and their struggle for unity makes for a fascinating study and very exciting listening.

You can purchase a copy of That overt desire of Object from Relative Pitch Records here.