Atkinson / Ledesma

Comme Un Seul Narcisse

An air of intrigue rustles against the misty music of Comme Un Seul Narcisse, shrouding it in sheets of uncertainty. Vague shadows appear on the other side of the music. The pale light is interrupted by shady figures, whispers and illusions. Deep, dreamy and uncertain chords open the record, and their opening, unsettling tones push into the light rustles, clinks (and meows) of the soft field recordings. Underneath the piano melodies, something’s not quite right. There’s just enough of a gentle disconnect to keep the music on a knife’s edge.

The urban life of New York, in some quarters sleek and fashionable, in other boroughs desolate and hard-pressed, bleeds into the slower, quieter rural retreat of the Alps until both continents come face to face. At times, the music rests in the shadow of the Alps. New York is surrounded by its own shadows, too – the subway stations, subterranean systems and narrow alleys have their own darkness. Sounds are spliced and added to the underlying piano, giving the music a disconcerting edge. It’s an experimental listen, but that doesn’t mean there’s an absence of melody or rhythm. Anything is possible with music, and the field recordings pulse with unique, natural rhythms. They’re lodged deep within the music itself. At other times, the recordings vanish, leaving behind subdued music, a dreamy potion that settles everything down.

Afternoon sounds pass rapidly along the cables as they’re sent under the water. Data passes through the internet, shifting from one continent to another, and as it reappears on the other side of a new morning, slightly altered due to unforeseen lag or a slight hiccup along its thousand- mile journey, it glitches slightly. There’s the occasional tear in the fabric. And Comme Un Seul Narcisse has been cut at its seams, with tiny tears that appear every so often. Like pieces of broken glass, the piano can’t sweep them aside, nor does it want to. This contrast defines Comme Un Seul Narcisse.

French artist Felicia Atkinson and New York composer Jefre Cantu-Ledesma bring something out of this collage of sounds, crafting music out of the debris until it can walk and talk. It has to learn first, so there are a few stumbles along the way. Touched with the fingerprints of both artists, the music is a mystery, and in order to decode it repeated listens are necessary. Dissonant strings and off-key melodies scurry around in a confused state as the dogs of the street bark, the birds tweet and the seagulls swirl around the Hudson River. Not all of NYC has vanished or decayed, and only half of a staggered, snowy peak has appeared. It’s a blurring of the two; of two shapes appearing at the same time, overlapping one another.

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