Not only is Jessica Pavone is a rising multi-instrumentalist and composer, noticed and lauded by publications such as NPR Music, The Wire, and The New York Times, but she is also a researcher of cymatics - the effects of sonic vibrations on human physiology and emotional health. Besides her solo work and collaborations with numerous artists including Matana Roberts, Tyondai Braxton, and Mary Halvorson, she leads an unconventional quartet consisting of Abby Swindler and Pavone on violas, and Erica Dicker and Angela Morris on violins. This ensemble's second release, entitled Lost and Found, dives into cymatics, and through loosely-improvised sound melded with with traditional notation techniques, seeks to generate physical and cognitive benefits through auditory experience.
Apologies if that last sentence felt confusing, because it reads that way to me at first take. Listening to Lost and Found is quite the trip, and not easy to put into words. Pavone and her fellow musicians rely on a digital clock to mark sections and cue transitions as well as time frames when playing together, but the four artists also freestyle between these sets, creating a multi-textured overlap. Each 10-minute song features varied dynamics and shifting tempo, but the common thread is some form of sustained drone for the listener fixate upon. As intended, the music feels vibratory, resonating in some core place, and in that way is engaging rather than passive. The four compositions are titled after antonyms (i.e. the title track), except the second - Nice and Easy. This begs a curious question of the composer: can nothing nice be also be easy? No matter the answer to this rhetorical inquiry, Lost and Found by the J. Pavone String Ensemble remains complex and interesting, which by the way, are not opposites. It is out this Friday, October 9th, through Astral Spirits and hear the title track below. You can find a link to purchase the album here.