Jim White/Marisa Anderson - The Quickening Music Album Reviews

The Dirty Three drummer and expansive guitarist collaborate on a freely improvised album that glows with ease. 

The Quickening opens with an ecstatic swirl of Jim White’s drums and Marisa Anderson’s electric guitar before the pair quickly settles into a trancelike rumble. They sustain this conversational euphoria over the following 10 improvised tracks, with nary a “solo” to be found, while homing in on each other’s frequencies. No matter where the pair travels on this unpredictable set, they do so in intimate dialogue. Anderson and White make for sympathetic collaborators, and their first album together glows with ease.
The Quickening shifts freely between moods and modes, but Anderson and White never sound like they are jamming aimlessly; each piece is a window opened onto a self-contained universe. On “Last Days,” Jim White lays out a lurching, ominous march rhythm while Anderson paints a blasted landscape. On “Diver,” Anderson coaxes an elegant bloom of drone into a conflagration of melody over White’s almost-invisible tom-tom accents and brushed cymbals.
For Anderson, the album represents a breakthrough. Over the years, she’s stretched her vocabulary from the spare blues-folk of her early work to 2018’s astounding Cloud Corner, which was filled with mountain ghosts, empty spaces, and occasional humming keyboards. Anderson contributed to Portland’s Evolutionary Jass Band for years, where her guitar and sitar were subsumed into the larger free ensemble. But The Quickening is unlike anything in her discography, and with it she uncovers a new landscape of possibilities.

Veteran Dirty Three percussion hero Jim White drums the way rain catches the surface as the rain shifts, except that White controls where every drop lands. Especially on the pair of nylon-string acoustic numbers (“The Lucky” and “The Quickening”), White’s powerful sense of flowing no-time works in elegant tandem with Anderson’s phrasing, joining to create a unified third voice that is neither exactly rhythmic nor melodic.

That third voice is the most ecstatic feature The Quickening has to offer. It is music as a frozen moment, a precarious combination of energies and ephemeralities and economies. To listen to any free improvised music is to hear another world, speaking its own spontaneous language. The Quickening comes from a place very nearby our own, now lost, but recoverable by listening.

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Jim White/Marisa Anderson - The Quickening Music Album Reviews Jim White/Marisa Anderson - The Quickening Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 25, 2020 Rating:

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