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Alexander, Sarah Ruth / Damon Smith: God Made My Soul an Ornament (Balance Point Acoustics)

An unusual duo of double bass, voice, hammered dulcimer, recorder, slide whistle, and various objects, recorded in 2019 between bassist Damon Smith and Sarah Ruth Alexander, freely improvising through nine pieces that show the breadth of creative imagination and powerful technical skills of each; curiously compelling, unpredictable and marvelously diverse.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Sarah Ruth Alexander-voice, hammered dulcimer, recorder, slide whistle, objects

Damon Smith-double bass


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Label: Balance Point Acoustics
Catalog ID: bpaltd12012
Squidco Product Code: 30219

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at UNT, in Denton, Texas, on February 15th, 2019, by Stephen Lucas.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"There are some people who are very singular in their conception of improvisation. People whose music embodies them as much as they embody the music. People who take from their life experience and put it into their sonic practice. People who search every crevice of their instrument to find sonic potential. These practices are beyond what may or may not be learned at a conservatory, no matter how deep the teaching goes.

Listening to these improvised moments between Sarah Ruth Alexander and Damon Smith, I might as well be eavesdropping on a conversation. I know both of these people very well. As such, I know their joys, their humor, their whimsy, their passions. I know their difficulties, their aversions, their particularities. All of these aspects are audible to me as a person who has been both a friend and musical collaborator.

Sarah and Damon both come from rather different playing backgrounds. Damon is known to the world almost purely as an improviser. Notwithstanding a few such things as Ayler tunes or Fluxus-tangential scores, both of which serve as springboards or orientation points for more improvisation yet still, Damon has devoted his life and art to discovering, in real time and practice, instant composition, both solo and with other musicians from all over the world. His other passions, from poetry, to modern art, to (perhaps most infamously) world cuisine all reflect his uncompromising and ever-searching aesthetics and praxis.

Sarah, depending on what night you catch her on, can be found playing doom metal, ambient drones, pop music, electronic noise, 20th century composition (from names familiar to obscure), or performing her own literary works, comedy, or socially challenging performance art; all in addition to her pure improv wanderings with musicians of many different backgrounds, disciplines and genres.

Sarah and Damon have in common two main things that I can see. The first is a hunger; for knowledge, for experience, for expression. Erudite, curious and constantly under construction, quality of execution and forward motion of learning and production seem to be driving forces. The other thing is a holisticness of approach. Damon plays THE WHOLE BASS; all notes and registers; every part you could bow or pluck or rub or knock. Similarly, Sarah has honed, and routinely uses THE ENTIRETY of her rather impressive vocal range. She has incorporated, sonically, visually, and on a practical level, the rest of her body into her performance, as well. Not to mention her dulcimer playing, and various keyboards, percussion and electronics that she employs, depending on the performance. Indeed, these musicians go all the way in every artistic venture.

This recording dives in at the deep end, stays there and expands on it. For a meeting of minds/bodies/voices such as this, there simply isn't anywhere else to go. Like they play themselves and their instruments in their entirety, they play the moment in it's entirety. There is no moment, whether loud or silent, that isn't penetrated by complete attention to creative commitment. Not minimalist, nor maximalist, this is a meeting of intimacy, engagement and surrender. If I am seeming to gush a little bit, allow me to say, this is par for the course for the two of them, who have met in other contexts before, but are sadly undocumented as collaborators.

Let me cap this off by saying, I'm not certain of the time, place, or other situational specifics of this recording. If this information was given me in advance and I lost it, well, I apologize profusely to my friends, the artists. Suffice it to say, this could have been anytime, anywhere, with any particulars or constraints, and it would have come off equally as immediate and vibrant as the results here.

Surrender your ears and your minds. Dig deep."-Aaron Gonzalez


Artist Biographies

"Sarah Ruth is a diverse musician and artist - a multi-instrumentalist, she employs hammered dulcimer, harmonium, electroacoustic sound art, and extended vocal techniques. She performs frequently both solo and with multiple bands and improvisational ensembles in the North Texas area. She is a University of North Texas graduate where she focused on vocal studies and electroacoustic composition. She has also studied with Meredith Monk and members of her vocal ensemble. She enjoys varied collaborations and has worked as a sound artist for art and photography installations and an accompanist for modern dance. She has performed with Damon Smith, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jaap Blonk, Liz Tonne, Sarah Gamblin, Rosemary Candelario, Susan kae Grant, Lisa Cameron, Tom Carter, and Aaron Gonzalez, to list a few. She tours nationally and her recent albums have been released on Obsolete Media Objects, Pour le Corps Music and Tofu Carnage Records. She also hosts a radio program called Tiger D on KUZU LP broadcasting in Denton at 92.9 FM and streaming online at kuzu.fm, playing music and often featuring guest musicians to curate and discuss their playlists."

-Sarah Ruth Alexander Website (https://www.sarahruthalexander.com/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Damon Smith studied double bass with Lisle Ellis and has had lessons with Bertram Turezky, Joëlle Leandré, John Lindberg, Mark Dresser and others. Damon's explorations into the sonic palette of the double bass have resulted in a personal, flexible improvisational language based in the American jazz avant-garde movement and European non-idiomatic free improvisation. Visual art, film and dance heavily influence his music, as evidenced by his CAMH performance of Ben Patterson's Variations for Double Bass, collaborations with director Werner Herzog on soundtracks for Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, and an early performance with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Damon has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including: Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen (of Sun Ra's Arkestra), Henry Kaiser, Roscoe Mitchell, Michael Pisaro, Wadada Leo Smith, Marco Eneidi, Wolfgang Fuchs, Peter Brötzmann and Peter Kowald. After many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and five great years in Houston, Texas working regularly with Alvin Fielder, Sandy Ewen, David Dove & Chris Cogburn, Damon will move to the Boston area in the fall of 2016. Damon has run Balance Point Acoustics record label since 2001, releasing music focusing on transatlantic collaborations between US and European musicians."

-Balance Point Acoustic Website (https://www.balancepointacoustics.com/damon-smith/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. My Curiosity The Sister Of Skylarks 9:49

2. The Perfidious Anxiety Of Sunsets The Shy Shrouds Of Dawn 9:33

3. Low Sky Of Unmoving Clouds 4:29

4. A Cosmis Holding Of Breath 5:16

5. We Are Only Able To Teach The Real Rules Of Life To Those Already Dead 3:10

6. Metaphysical Enemy 5:46

7. Indefinite Lucid Blue Pallor Of The Aquatic Evening 5:31

8. History Rejects Certainty 7:54

9. Feeling Is Such A Bore 10:06

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Jazz
Stringed Instruments
Unusual Vocal Forms
Duo Recordings
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz

Search for other titles on the label:
Balance Point Acoustics.


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