Reviews Various Artists Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay – Amalgam

Various Artists

Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay – Amalgam

OK, here we are dealing with an absolutely stunning collaboration. In a live setting, cellist Okkyung Lee, an excellent improviser who has worked alongside artists such as Jenny Hval, Swans, John Zorn and Cecil Taylor, and Christian Marclay, a visual artist and composer, master of turntablism, meet to create an Amalgam, a combination of the most strange, bizarre metals that the two can unearth.

The frantic playing of Lee kicks fiercely comes into view with a sense of urgency. Something is always transpiring when Lee is playing her cello, a feeling that never stops evolving. Continuous and disruptive, describing her playing as free-jazz does not even begin to scratch the surface of what is actually going on here. The performance travels beyond the musical domain, and dwells in an actual, realistic world, where her technique recalls events as diverse as roaring thunders to electric circuits malfunctioning, making it hard to believe that she only has a single instrument at her disposal.

On the other hand Marclay's presence opens up a different portal for the duo's investigation, managing to create additional dimensions within the furious improvisations. At times he follows Lee's exhilarating lead, filling the scenery with strange sonic artifacts, before setting out to create his own havoc, as blinking electronics and soaring noise come in with full force and eradicate everything. But, further ambiance and reality bending perspectives are investigated, as Marclay allows for soothing instances and blissful tones to come in, wandering minimalistic pathways to appear, by catching himself somewhere between free-jazz and musique concrete.

This is a strange beast of a record, where Lee and Marclay pass through moments of varying intensity. Abstract themes arise from the minimal and ambient tones, and in a swift and precise switch in dynamics they unleash powerful and devastating progressions. They dive further than minimalism and into areas that could only be described as space investigations, filling the panorama with otherworldly sounds coming from alien lifeforms. At times it feels as a conflict between the two performers which is sequentially followed by a coordinated assault in full effect, and in every fucking part they just dive so deep in the essence of their music that they make Amalgam so more uncompromising.

8.5 / 10Spyros Stasis
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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