‘Winding like a Snake in the Grasses’: A Review of AZITA’s ‘Enantiodromia’

  February 23rd, 2009

I saw Azita open up for Stephen Malkmus at Irving Plaza in New York several years ago. Malkmus was terrific — all drawl and solos, and I can’t get that floppy bowl cut he wore out of my mind — but it was Azita who stayed with me until long after the show was over. I was struck by her singing, edgy and free and swooping in and around vowels, scooping out vowels with an unpolished spoon. Sharp and flat in the right ways, like Astrud Gilberto; moving in and around her head voice, from nasal to back of throat to everywhere else, lending her voice this totally distinctive elasticity. And those melodies — they completely insinuated themselves in me by show’s end, winding and complex, knotted, beguiling. I bought the LP “Enantriodromia” soon after.

I haven’t listened to the album in probably 8 months. So when I put it in this evening — it’s still playing now — I had this thrill, this shock of glad recognition. Don’t you love that? When you realize a forgotten record has burrowed deeply into you, into strata you had no idea it had possessed the power to penetrate. Maybe its her melodies — I believe that part of the power of a well-constructed, complex melody is its capacity to imprint the brain more deeply, sink down into its trenches, its Marianas, like a kind of tremendous galleon, sink down and stay there for centuries, attracting kelp and wolf eels and endless glittering shoal. Like Van Dyke Parks’ melodies, like Brian Wilson melodies, like certain melodies of Debussy or that of Chopin’s ‘Barcarolle’… the density of the melody helps it anchor down in the peat of the brain, slowly effervescing up through the soil, leaking good rust for months and years, blooming, ripening, gaining emotional power.

I love this record. I love her honest voice, honest and open like Oldham’s, Guthrie’s. Simple despite its restlessness and leaps and changes in timbre. I particulary dig “Birds”, its buoyant scatted passage, its arresting chord change right at “Birds have grown up singing in the trees”. I love her piano playing, instinctive and serving well those endlessly-surprising slanted harmonies of hers. Tons of extended chords, diminished chords, so much tension and suspension that so richly satisfies and never feels confrontational or difficult for the sake of it: a kind of dancing slowly and to one side, with unusual but necessary bodily contortions, like a kind of aural Butoh.

This record is a spell: long and hypnotic incantations, multiple languages, strange symbols woven into the air, complex results that reveal themselves in time. Letting this record into you is like waking up one day in a house of gordian-knotted ribbon and vine; such rare pleasure in stretching your limbs, admiring the whorling braids, pulling it all in and over you like blankets.

AZITA’s Offical Website

C. Way/ SnailCrow.com © 2009

[posted by C Way at 11:36 PM]


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