Purple Pyramid 2016
Because he can: ethereal avant-gardist enters the world of chamber exploration and comes out triumphant.
Damo Suzuki’s wail may be gone now but the legendary CAN man hasn’t lost an iota of his Schrödinger’s cat quality of being present and absent – or material and abstract – at the same time. That’s why, no matter how traditional seemed the singer’s collaboration with ELYSIAN QUARTET on the surface of it, that was all part of his unquenchable thirst for a new experiment and a new experience. So while this recording of their 2007 London performance finds Suzuki harnessing his vocal improvisations to strings – but no charts: “At the beginning I jump. When I land, we start!” said the vocalist to his kindred spirits – there’s enough unpredictability to keep the listener focused on what’s going on.
To help with this task, although “Floating Element” is a four-part piece, it’s presented as a single 70-minute track which, not without formally recurring themes, moves forward from pathetic bombast – percussion and piano playing prominent parts in this landscape – to quite delicate, crystalline sections. Based on phonetic flow rather than actual words, it’s still poetry in motion, or a vehicle for Damo to, according to his notes, create time and space of the moment, that meditative, if often anxious, instant where theatricality is natural, especially when Suzuki’s chants turn to sparse blues. The resulting recital is as spiritual as it is elusive – hence the title – yet, ephemeral and intense, the composition is impressive. Challenging, too, for the artist and the audience, but that’s how this creation can change one’s world.