Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh

By: Dennis Cook

Almost courtly in its sumptuous lusciousness, this pairing of Ghost's Batoh and Espvall, cellest for the Espers, is graceful, lovely and timeless. The pair meet meets at a still point where experimental acoustic music, chamber orchestrations and international folk blend into a multilingual mélange. The duo adapts traditional Swedish and Finnish tunes, medieval music and their own instrumental improvisations to create that rare thing – a completely unique new sound. Bird whistles, hammer dulcimer, dustings of electric guitar, earthy drones and more go into a mix that dances in nature, very much the soundtrack to the drawings of wild flowers and mushrooms that adorn the booklet. This harks back to the deft genre demolishing of ECM Records in the '70s & '80s, touching upon the groundbreaking work of Ralph Towner (and really all of Oregon), especially. There's something quite alive to their musical canoodling, the moan of the world awakening, leaves damp with night sweat, eyes pulled open by the ache to see the sun rise. It's a serious talent to wrangle the natural world into notes, yet Batoh and Espvall succeed here.

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[Published on: 9/15/08]

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