Music Review: Eli Keszler – Stadium

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Eli Keszler


[Shelter Press; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

“These are ‘dead intervals.’”

The silence between. Between the end and the beginning. The silence in. A rupture. An interruption, the silence in between. Or, a duration of a death. Eli Keszler makes and will have always made music in and of this interval. For instance, Dead Intervals. Piano wires strung through trees. Sounds that traverse the interval, but can one still call them sounds? Can one hear them? Transmitting the text, “Man is deaf.” For whom then are you singing?

“Music is what man owes to time. More precisely: to the dead interval that produces rhythms.”

The silence in a rupture. The present is. The present leaves itself. From self. The present is the departure. No instants or in the flux or in the flow, no moments either. But a present. In the silence. In a rupture. That tears apart and joins together. That tears together. A coming to be. That begins and is beginning, and is beginning itself. With no escape. Hear then, time. Rhythms that pulse through the cadences of nonexistent things. Or at least. The memory of solidity? At last. To be absorbed in time like this is to watch the world flow by. To be. Solitary. Flow, bye. And rhythms disperse. And gather. And the phrases and the noises of all else. “Which Swarms Around It.” But the percussion recedes in the flow in the fleeting in the fleeing, toward what?

“…dead interval: the very particular silence that, to the human ear, separates two successive rhythmic groups. The silence that separates these groups is a paradoxical duration that starts with the end and is interrupted by the beginning.”

Here are a few of the times I noticed while listening to this record: How long a leaf drifts before landing, the least arduous fall there ever was; how that man over there is fidgeting with his hands, how quickly he must rehearse his anxiety so as not to keep up with it, so as to be in its wake, so as to be it, so as and so as to avoid looking fear in fear’s face your fear are the face of your fear; how however many sounds and signs and sighs and jolts and jerks, they all coalesce, and it’s not that there is a measure over which they are synthesized, for perhaps one can only hear one at once, but one is in them all, that they are all there, looming, like “Measurement Doesn’t Change the System,” but, looming. There is an urgency to escape.

“Gabriel Fauré said of music that writing it as well as hearing it led to the ‘desire for inexistent things.’ Music is the reign of the dead interval. It is the irreversible that visits. It is the past that ‘repasses.’ It is nowhere that comes here. It is the return of that which is without return. It is death in daylight. It is the aseme in language.”

“We Live in Pathetic Temporal Urgency.” One day he writes me: Description of a dream. A face appears, a face disappears. In the department stores of Tokyo, in the subterranean tunnels that extend them. A trace is found, is lost. The present is because it is solitude. It has no past, it has no future. There are no others but it and the ghosts that dissolve beneath the blue neon night shade of its shadow. Yet, a trace is found, a trace is lost. A face appears, disappears. We’ve already conquered space, but time is now being colonized without our being able to describe what is happening, for time does nothing but absorb. Yet time can shatter. From an immemorial past, from an irredeemable future. An urgency toward what? An acceleration toward what? A tumbling toward what recedes, only because there was a “toward” at all. All the while. The wash of strings, synth, bass, keys are all a blur. A wish. An overexposure. A passing away. The light blurred flow of life blurs as it all streams by, resplendent. While the rhythm gathers all together in its spray. While the rhythm tears it all apart, in its sheen. Or not life as a light stream. But perhaps a fountain. In the middle. With “Lotus Awning,” shading its cool. Its clarity.

“My fingers are empty. I cannot bear order, meaning, peace. I gather the aftereffects of time. I rip to shreds the rules of the past and the present, which I have never understood. Logos once meant ‘collection.’ I collect rubble, patches of fugitive light, ‘dead intervals,’ the intruder and the lost, the sordidissima of the cavern: night is the bottom of the worlds. Everything goes toward nonlanguage. I have attempted to bring back things that were without code, without song and without language, and that roam toward the source of the world … Being born serves no purpose and knows no end: certainly not death. There is no end because death does not finish. Death does not terminate: it interrupts.”

Time flows in from the future, which we postpone, through the ceaseless repetition of, a pushing, a way, of the past. Stadium here is an exposition of time, in this stadion, this measureless measure, or rather, time is here exposed, , , there is an inexhaustible present in a choke, in a gasp, a suspension of time, of a gasp, in a choke, where as if floating, or rather, Time is a forceful gesture, imparting the sustenance of subsistence, where as if disembodied, all of your ghosts, slip surreptitiously through, for some reason I’m thinking of, in a subterranean shopping mall, Exposes time, the, there is a time for, there is not enough time, there are too many times, of that scene in Sans soleil, as if to say, you were in all of these times at once, of that scene in, as if to say, here is when I was born, here is when I, here, is when I died, of that scene ’ ’ ‘emergence of time, and it’s miraculous that time has no borders, all of them collapse into the rupture, into the space of the, beginning is the preparing for the beginning, but why speak of the future, for rhythms are just this, Is there measure on this earth? There is none, a measureless measure, to let time pass, to let time be, and to leave time, to be time’s leave of, and to believe time, We live in too many times.

“The dead interval is the hand that time extends to us. If death interrupts, this interruption is within us … in our birth, in our cry as in our sleep. In our breath as in our thought. In our walking on two feet as in human language. The dead interval, of which we are a precarious dependency, explodes in everything. ”

For whom then are you singing?

Felicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma come together for assuredly chart-topping new album Limpid As The Solitudes

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Felicia freakin’ Atkinson!

Jefre goddang Cantu-Ledesma!!!

Shelter MF-ing Press!!!


When is one plus one not two? When two paths converge and a new one appears. But what is this newly activated neural pathway? A Third Mind? In the 1960s, multimedia artist Brion Gysin cut through the words of a newspaper and rearranged them to reveal a new kind of truth contained within the words but not freed until his knife cut it loose. He described this as part of the Third Mind. Likewise, Limpid As The Solitudes cuts through sound-making techniques to enter a new zone of sonic revelations…

If you had to look for musical precedents, you might say the record recalls the turn-of-the-century Mille Plateaux glitch era, the warmth of La Monte Young’s raga-inspired microtonal electronic “dream house” drones, a sense of adventure evident in the acousmatic non-space recordings made by GRM artists in the 1960s/ 1970s, 4AD’s floor gazing guitar sound circa Cocteau Twins peak, and blissfully diverse field recordings.

-Shelter Press

I mean…what else do you really need to know!?

“When, exactly?” November 9.

“Pre-order where exactly?” right over here.

“A little sonic proof, maybe?” Coming right up, pal. See you down there:

Limpid As The Solitudes tracklisting:


Watch: Eli Keszler – “Lotus Awnings”

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The flute makes me mute, its round
holes, sound of morning that’s

— Maggie Nelson, The Last Winter

Eli Keszler is a percussionist and sound design artist who makes sparse, meandering, conceptual music. Here, we have a newly released video for “Lotus Awnings,” a song from his upcoming album Stadium, which is out October 12 on Shelter Press.

Filmmaker Alan Segal shot and directed the video, which makes use of unremarkable urban landscapes (brick buildings, sidewalks, etc.) to create a stillness that matches the meditative temper of the audio. The shots are temporally ambiguous, which is to say the lighting is bluish gray, not-quite-bright, but not-quite-dark, which makes me think of morning more than evening. Paired with Keszler’s song, Segal’s video imparts an overwhelming sense of stillness, a sense of beginning.

What is morning if not stillness? Morning time, paradoxically, isn’t a time, more of a mood, less a proper designation than a measure of disposition. It’s when things haven’t begun — the shifting tide between asleep and awake, a time outside of time. As I listened to the flute pattern throughout, I couldn’t help but think: sound of morning that’s coming.

Not insignificantly, the video begins with a white letter “A” in one corner, from which a slow-moving line emerges. The line crawls across the screen for five minutes and eventually lands on a “B” toward the end. And the video is interspersed with red abstractions, specked with white dots, a void that’s not quite a void, almost dreamlike. Morning feels like that too: thinking about how to get from point A to point B in the midst of half-dreaming. Not awake, not asleep.

Lose yourself in the video and the song, maybe feel its morning-ness and its stillness.

Eli Keszler announces European tour ahead of new album Stadium; stay calm, you hooligans!

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Gotta love those drummers and their perfect senses of timing:

Ahead of releasing his new album Stadium October 12 on Shelter Press, Eli Keszler is giving the general public fair warning about an international tour that he has planned more or less simultaneously.

First, the virtuoso percussionist will join Oneohtrix Point Never for a few shows; and then, once October arrives, Keszler will venture as the headliner to various venues around Europe, where audiences will greet him with a warmth unparalleled even by a perfectly-baked, delightfully-spicy gingerbread man! And after that, and he’s also going to be playing a few shows in Poland alongside Rashad Becker, which should likewise prove pretty awesome, given their shared abilities across multiple technical/artistic areas. It’ll be two renaissance men showcasing their skills and making the rest of us feel inadequate and unaccomplished! Who else can’t wait?!

Yup; good looking, smart, and funny. Yes, that’s Zack Morr…uh, I mean, Eli Keszler! He could perform open-heart surgery with those drumsticks. And his visual work is also deserving similarly fantastical hyperbole…if only I had the time to think of some more!


09.12.18 – Tokyo, Japan – Shibuya O-East *
09.20.18 – Berlin, Germany – Funkhaus *
09.24.18 – Paris, France – Le Centquatre *
09.26.18 – Montreal, QC – Monument-National *
10.02.18 – New York, NY – The Kitchen (album release event)
10.12.18 – Columbia, MD – Opus
10.24.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon (album release event)
10.31.18 – London, UK – Cafe Oto
11.02.18 – Dublin, Ireland – Bello Bar
11.04.18 – Vienna, Austria – Rhiz
11.07.18 – Lausanne, Switzerland – Le Bourg
11.08.18 – Bratislava, Slovakia – Fuga
11.13.18 -Aalborg, Denmark – Tape
11.14.18 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Alice
11.15.18 – Stockholm, Sweden – Fasching
11.20.18 – Brno, Czech Republic – Praha
11.22.18 -Poznan, Poland – Las &
11.23.18 – Warsaw, Poland – Mozg &
11.24.18 – Gdańsk, Poland – Kolonia Artystow

* Oneohtrix Point Never
& Rashad Becker

Eli Keszler announces new large-capacity, open-air album Stadium on Shelter Press, shares “Flying Floor For U.S. Airways”

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This just in: Avant-percussionist and visual artist Eli Keszler is BACK with some more R&R (rhythm & rhythm) with his newly-announced ninth solo album. Like all good records, it has a title (Stadium), a label (Shelter Press), and a release window (October 2018). Please look forward to enjoying it 🙂

Keszler explains the title of the album thusly: “After we moved into our East Village apartment, we found a guitar pick on the floor that read ‘Stadium.’ We looked at each other at the same time and had the same thought. It could have gone any number of ways.”

The album’s sound finds Keszler exploring “intersections of melody, restraint and rhythm” that “challenge the idea of memory, impression and space.” The new record also marks a highlight for Keszler’s already busy year, which has seen him deliver a solo exhibition, “Blue Skies,” in Bradford, UK, collaborate with Laurel Halo on her mini-LP Raw Silk Uncut Wood, and tour with Oneohtrix Point Never in support of new record Age Of. Hey, if anyone can find the time, it’s a drummer! (I’m sorry; please keep reading.)

If you can’t wait to be violently Stadium‘d, you can get a look at this baby under construction by listening to a downtempo little excerpt, “Flying Floor For U.S. Airways,” below. If you’re trying to reserve your nosebleed seats ASAP, prepare your pre-order-fingers at the Shelter Press Bandcamp. If you’re here for abstract word jumbles (hope you enjoyed the article, btw), then check out the full Stadium tracklisting below. (I promise I’m not keeping any track titles from you!) Otherwise…I don’t know, go click on a review or something.

Stadium tracklisting:

01. Measurement Doesn’t Change the System At All
02. Lotus Awnings
03. We Live In Pathetic Temporal Urgency
04. Flying Floor For U.S. Airways
05. Simple Act of Inverting the Episode
06. Which Swarms Around It
07. Fifty Four To Madrid
08. French Lick
09. Was the Singing Bellowing
10. The Driver Stops
11. Fashion of Echo
12. Bell Underpinnings

Thomas Ankersmit pays Homage to Dick Raaijmakers with new album on Shelter Press

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More people have contributed to the pioneering of electroacoustic music than one might realize, but it helps to buoy a certain appreciation when one of those individuals just happens to have participated mightily to the scene in your national birthplace.

Thomas Ankersmit was born in the Netherlands, and before the late-thirty-year-old aurally invigorated by way of his international installations and performances, a man by the name of Dick Raaijmakers spent several decades developing his own instrumental experiments and formally educating the Dutch public on electronic music. Raaijmakers initially took on a research role at Eindhoven’s NatLab during the latter part of the 1950s, and after he exhausted his formal position messing around with novel equipment, he…took on more formal positions while simultaneously indulging his purely musical side. His Kid Baltan moniker (a mirror of his “Dik Natlab” nickname) got its first musical credits in the 50s, and he also partnered with fellow pioneer Tom Dissevelt under the name Electrosoniks. Then he lectured on electronic music at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague for nearly 30 years, until 1995.

Point being: this guy is long overdue for an homage! So, thanks be to Ankersmit for stepping in and composing Homage to Dick Raiijmaker, which is scheduled to come out this September on Shelter Press. Essentially, Ankersmit used the opportunity to “re-contextualize Raaijmakers’ ideas about electric sound, composition, and spatial experience,” and the result definitely sounds similar to, say, this experimental piece from back in the day. It’s dissonant courtesy of the trademark Serge use this time around.

Listen to some excerpts from Homage down below, and keep a lookout for ordering info here.

Justin Meyers announces new synth-centered album Struggle Artist on Shelter Press

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People often look up to musicians as emotional mediums who survive purely by the will of their marvelous talent, but anyone who’s refrained from a Tolkien obsession surely appreciates the less fantastic truth: the vast majority of artists out there have a second gig in order to live at least semi-comfortably. In the indie world, you’ll be hard-pressed to come across a project that isn’t the tip of the human glacier that appears majestically above water (meaning there’s necessarily more going on in their lives).

Those projects include the work of Minneapolis-based artist and friend of the site Justin C. Meyers, whose newest album, Struggle Artist, is conceptually all about the ongoing injection of artistry among other life happenings, some of which have proven to be personally taxing. According to the press release, Meyers created Struggle Artist “initially during lunch breaks and in hospital waiting rooms,” and he finished it after being laid off from his job. Whereas his prior 2016 release Negative Space (1981-2014) was reportedly a commentary on chronic illness and “near-death experience,” the theme of this newest album can largely be extrapolated to apply across the independent music scene. There are plenty of doubtlessly intended synth breaks on Struggle Artist that possibly symbolize the interruptions that Meyers experiences creatively.

Check the video teaser below, and experience the struggle for yourself May 11 , when the album is released on Shelter Press.

Struggle Artist tracklisting:

01. Ambient Role Play
02. Draw Distance
03. Balloon Étude
04. NPC Loop 1
05. Self Portrait
06. Limit Break
07. Ambient Role Play (End)
08. Granular Opportunities 1
09. Granular Opportunities 2
10. Expectations
11. Expectations 2
12. NPC Loop 2
13. Noise Artist Cosplay
14. Struggle Artist

Félicia Atkinson playing US live shows starting THIS WEEK, not giving anyone enough time to do the required reading

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Aww, what the hell!? I just tried to use my college account to log in to JSTOR and was told I’ve been graduated too long to use their databases. Come on guys, it’s only been like two years!!

That’s a real bummer, because there’s no way I’ll be able to do all the reading for Félicia Atkinson’s brief upcoming US tour…you know: given that it starts THIS FRIDAY (March 30) and includes a stop at at NYC’s Issue Project Room THIS SATURDAY (March 31) — where she’s to perform a “brand new work” (!!!) — and all…

Atkinson, whose work constantly reminds me I didn’t study enough philosophy to write for this site, is the author of one of our favorite albums of last year: the extraordinary Hand in Hand. (Look, I promise; my Jacques Attali book is in the mail, professor! But I just won’t be able to finish the readings in such little time. Do you have office hours on weekends? Can I just stream the audio transcripts down below??)

Of course, Atkinson is more than just a musician, with ample and prominent work in visual art, publishing, curation, text, grammatology, research on the uniquely human phenomenology of music, and…uh, I don’t know…what’s the minimum word count again??? Anyway, these live performances are guaranteed to be really, very, very, very (very!) good. If you can stand to skip a few classes, you’d do well to get your pasty ass off-campus, get some fresh air and a change of scenery, and attend one of these things.

Hand In Hand by Félicia Atkinson

Félicia Atkinson Spring 2018 tour dates:

03.30.18 – New York, NY – The Emily Harvey Foundation*
03.31.18 – Brooklyn, NY – Issue Project Room**
04.05.18 – Chicago, IL – The Owl
04.15.18 – Portland, OR – Reed College
04.18.18 – Seattle, WA – Rare Air at the Timbre Room

* Morgan Bassichis, Sara Magenheimer, Constance DeJong, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Yann Sérandou
** Performing brand new work, “The Candle,” around an imaginary dialogue between the poems of Francis Ponge (1899-1988) and texts of her own. Curated by DeForrest Brown Jr.

Music Review: CV & JAB — ZIN TAYLOR – Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface

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Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface

[Shelter Press; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett’s interpretation of wall drawings by the artist Zin Taylor, made for his show “Creative Writing” at Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster. In the hands of Vantzou and Bennett, Taylor’s splayed and flattened landscape of natural and almost-natural forms, a black-and-white desert of contorted cacti, becomes something like a landscape of sound, a spacious mixture of droning, buzzing, and beeping things.

Is there such a thing as a non-arbitrary performance of a graphic score, whether that happens in the relatively conservative, formalized space opened up by a solitary composer in the tradition of John Cage or, as is the case for Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface, in public, together, and of a graphic work not strictly presented as a score? Yes and no, probably. I don’t personally think Vantzou and Bennett’s album sounds “like” Zin Taylor’s wall drawing, and I don’t know how it could. Still, the choices made by each in recording it reflect some encounter between their intuitions, their reactions to one another, and their reactions to a space transformed by Taylor. The album verifies that the place made by Taylor could, if only once and for about 43 minutes, sound like this.

Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface by CV & JAB — Zin Taylor

Vantzou and Bennett begin in a more ecological mode, faithfully evoking presences of moving water and trees on the first couple of tracks, before their performance veers in a more abstract direction, returning only once or twice to those representational figures. The breathy, delaying melody of “Large Suess Plant,” the dense low-end and forceful electronics of “Alfred Hitchcock Haze,” the gentlety of “Rock House with Door,” the resonant droning of “Nub with Three Wraps of Fabric,” and the obscure piano of “Fingers of Thought” all hold tones and textures that, even in their diversity, work in a way here that doesn’t feel random. It’s uncalculated, but natural. The result of their combination is, I think, an interesting and important example of music based on graphic material, and a piece of work that relates productively with traditions from New Age, indeterminate composition, and electroacoustic improvisation. At times, it becomes austere, matching Taylor’s drawing in its monochrome; at others, it becomes rich, differentiated, and full.

Music Review: Tomoko Sauvage – Musique Hydromantique

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Tomoko Sauvage

Musique Hydromantique

[Shelter Press; 2017]

Rating: 3.5/5

What is a musical instrument? Is it a self-contained object that produces noise solely according to its own inner constitution and logic (at least when operated by a musician)? Or is it a borderless, fluid medium between its surroundings and the ears of its receiver, simply one of many channels through which a particular environment manifests itself aurally?

Well, regardless of the “true” answer to this question, it seems that Tomoko Sauvage would be inclined to give a response leaning more toward the second possibility. The Paris-based composer and sound artist is known for the exploitation of a “sole” instrument, water, yet her music employs H20 via the help of a whole range of objects: porcelain bowls, suspended blocks of ice, plastic cups, and strategically placed hydrophones. Together, these various elements were combined into a single meta-instrument on her trance-inducing debut solo album, Ombrophilia, and now they’ve been brought together once again for the no-less absorbing follow-up, Musique Hydromantique, which proves to be not only a vivid deconstruction of the concept of the musical instrument, but also a meditation on the limits of artistic control and agency.

What’s most immediately striking about the scattered, balmy notes of Hydromantique is that they simultaneously do and do not sound like water. Opening piece “Clepsydra” is nearly 11 minutes of melted droplets of ice plunging randomly into the aforementioned watered bowls, yet what the underwater hydrophones pick up is often more akin to a metallophone than that characteristic “plop” of a leaky tap or a rain-sodden leaf. The effect is an unsettling or hypnotic one (depending on your mood), suggesting that the water isn’t so much being faithfully recorded as mutated, rendered into something unfamiliar and alien. It takes on a high-pitched, chiming resonance that reverberates portentously through the space in which it was “captured,” and it’s precisely because it’s transmogrified in this way, blended almost seamlessly with the tonalities of its ceramic receptacle and the capabilities of Sauvage’s microphones, that the listener is liable to suspect that what’s being heard is a kind of composite, system-instrument, rather than something more discrete such as a guitar or piano.

In other words, tracks such as “Clepsydra” raise the thorny question of where a musical instrument begins and ends, of what exactly is being expressed when someone uses an instrument to make sounds. This is brought up even more clearly on “Fortune Biscuit,” in which the air bubbles emitted into water are heard more as a fast succession of percussive, hard-edged “pops” or “taps,” or as mechanical chirruping, than as a gentle bubbling. That they sound so different to what might be expected underlines how it’s not simply water that’s doing the talking here, but also the properties of Sauvage’s recording equipment, as well as the flow of air, the atmospheric quality of the room involved, the shape of the bowls, the size and materials of the room involved, and the regularity with which she may be topping off these bowls with fresh glasses of water.

As a whole, these components result in a cascade of vaguely watery rattling and crackling, yet it’s difficult to pinpoint which of them is being represented “more” by the unnerving effervescence on display. In fact, it’s difficult to pinpoint just what exactly is being represented, seeing as how so many subtle determinants and effects could have influenced how the water (and bubbles) ultimately behaved. Could air pressure be a factor? Could we be indirectly listening to a high or low temperature? Who knows, but because “Fortune Biscuit” makes it so difficult to isolate individual elements, the piece ends up raising doubts over the notion that when we hear any kind of musician perform, we’re hearing only what they intended us to hear.

And it’s this mention of what a musician may or may not intend that brings up Musique Hydromantique’s other central motif, that of the limits of artistic (or even human) control and agency. By filling a number of bowls with water, placing them in certain spaces, and recording the proceedings, Sauvage surely had at least a general vision in mind when she made the album. Yet in choosing to work with such natural materials as water and ice, it’s clear that she was opening her work up to chance and contingency, to factors that at best can only be channeled rather than fully orchestrated.

As such, a piece like “Calligraphy” becomes a confession of her own limitations and vulnerabilities, its oscillating feedback acting as an unknowable quantity she could never entirely predict, even if she were the one who voluntarily walked into a bona fide echo chamber in France to set up all her gear. Over the course of its 20 minutes, the droning reverb she helps set off undulates slowly and pregnantly, creating the discomfiting sense of an epiphany gradually coming into focus but waning just before it gains enough clarity and treble. Each of its numinous peaks and troughs, as well as its more mundane drips and drops, are foreseeable enough in the abstract, but calculating exactly when and where they’ll fall is impossible, to the point where it becomes obvious that Sauvage’s control of them is much less than complete. Indeed, by the end of the piece, they’ve taken on a life of their own, with Sauvage becoming less a composer and more a facilitator and documenter of their meditative unwinding.

Hence the title of the album, Musique Hydromantique, which alludes to the practice of divination via water, of harnessing water as a medium through which God — or at least all that which humanity can’t control and understand — might speak. Hydromancy is exactly what Sauvage performs on the album, insofar as she foregrounds the role of the non-manmade in the playing and recording of music, and shows how it’s often those things beyond our mastery and authorship that we give voice to in our very own art, rather than to any neat-and-tidy message we might want to transmit directly to our audience. Yet in highlighting this gulf between intention and execution, in demonstrating how more than human volition and action creeps into an artwork, Sauvage has made her own work only more profound and revelatory.