“Soundcatcher”

I have to admit that I really don’t understand the Fire Museum Records release of What We Live’s “Soundcatcher.” What We Live, a trio of Lisle Ellis, Lawrence Ochs, and Don Robinson; are joined for this recording by vocalist Saadet Turkoz.

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The album, which seems to straddle the boundary between mainstream jazz, and the full-on free variety, does very little for me in ways of conjuring anything but the most garden variety Middle-Eastern imagery– and this, only during Turkoz’s contributions. When she isn’t singing, I have the mental impression that she has somehow wandered off.
It’s actually quite bothersome, because the music seems remarkably different without her; quickly changing from a melancholic lament driven by the vocals, to a tentative array of sounds proceeding to no certain goal. Then again, I haven’t the faintest idea what she’s saying, and I seriously doubt a lot of people will either. I decided that I would approach her contribution as though it were invented words; attempting to hear them less linguistically, and more as pure sound.

By the end of my most recent listening session, I was thinking more about “why this album?” and “why this recording?” than seriously attemping to parse the content itself. Recorded live in late 2004, “Soundcatcher” is yet another “moment in time” recording– nothing particularly wrong with this, but I wonder what held it up? With no liner notes to speak of, the listener doesn’t know if this was among a series of shows, or a one-off event. There is, in fact, nothing that helps the listener place this in a greater context– personally, I feel adrift with this release, unable to connect it to my own experience.

Technically, I find no problems with this release. For a live set, its somewhat devoid of the “live sound” however, with much more of an in-studio feel. Again, I’d be very happy with some simple liner notes, especially as a first-time What We Live listener.

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