What we expect of experimental vocal improvising any more is a subject open to a lot of debate, particularly if you subscribe to the “nothing new under the sun” school of thought. In other words is there anywhere still left to go?
Sidsel Endresen is a blue sky thinker in the best sense and her answer to that question, Bonita seems to suggest, is: just watch me. Yet the Norwegian singer’s sense of daring and experimentalism is, even bearing this in mind, uncompromisingly stark, and, let’s face it: not always that appealing. After all she’s not here to flatter the listener with comfortable melodies or familiar forms.
In duo with guitarist Stian Westerhus, seen by some with some justification as the artistic heir to Terje Rypdal, the pair have collaborated before on Didymoi Dreams and entered the studio in Oslo for this latest get-together as recently as August. At the risk of understatement it’s a challenging listen at the frontiers of what the voice is capable of, hostile and intimidating on the title track, but affecting and intimate too on the stand-out ‘Knuckle Tattoo.’
Released on 12 January 2015