Stuart Broomer's Cadence review of Respiritus

my sighs in shockings

This series of improvised saxophone and voice duets is remarkable for the way in which it combines the sophisticated and the most direct means of communication. On the one hand it is an essay in the most rarefied of extended techniques - from Butcher's oscillator-like pitch flexibility to an almost serial handling of harmonics, pops and split tones to Mackness's combination of operatic techniques and throat singing, even coughing, in a mutely theatrical way. On the other hand, there are those titles, suggesting a kind of transformation of the folk song, or perhaps an Elizabethan richness and playfulness of the tongue, the mutability and magnification of all things.

The key is in "respiritus", which might suggest the life of breathing, the ultimate fundamental. It's very much a dialogue about "pipes". The variety of Butcher's sounds is about the harmonic structure of his two air pipes, just as the conjoined patterns of Mackness's singing are about the mechanics of voice. Together they make a music that is the etheric double of speech.

This is challenging and refreshing work, with a distinctive, even original, lyric character. Highly recommended.

© Stuart Broomer/Cadence