After two well-received shorter EP releases, the Seattle-Missoula connection of reed player Kate Olson and trombonist Naomi Moon Siegel - Syrinx Effect - are back with their first full length album, A Sky You Could Strike a Match On. To say it's striking would be an understatement, but a clever one.
As KNKX listeners know, Siegel is no stranger to the duet format. She performed live in our studios with guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme a year ago. In fact, both these dynamic performers enjoy playing solo as well. It's not exactly commonplace to hear horn players by themselves, but these two talented women are far from common.
Siegel has been a force in the Greater Northwest (include the Bay Area and Western Montana) since moving west a dozen years ago, collaborating in Wayne Horvitz's Royal Room Collective and other forward-thinking groups. She won a Golden Ear award from Earshot in 2012 for Best Emerging Artist.
Kate Olson arrived in Seattle in 2010, emerging as one of the area's most unique voices on a variety of saxophones, primarily soprano. Also a Horvitz collaborator, Olson has developed a following for her own KO Ensemble and her mesmerizing KO SOLO. She's a "Knock Out" (sorry) educator as well, working to expand opportunities for improvisors in our city and help them advance their careers.
Beyond category, both Naomi and Kate are best described as improvising musicians. To put too fine a point on it, you could call Syrinx Effect "interstellar-electronic-chamber-folk-punk-jazz", but leave descriptors aside and just enjoy this music for what it is.
As Syrinx Effect, Olson and Siegel build songs like architects. A bass line on the trombone is looped with melodies and counterpoint lines stacked up, then peeled away. As Olson says about her tune "Bottomfeeder" from the new album, "Once the melody is stated, we layer our dual improvisations over the bass line, getting a muddier and muddier sound as our polyrhythms meld into one mass of audio. These layered improvisations then drop out, and the melodic sections are restated."
Electronic or looped percussion is added to some songs, and the opportunities for adventurous improvisation are plentiful, but A Sky You Could Strike a Match On is truly a collection of beautiful and playful songs. Impressively, this multi-layered electronic-acoustic "du-orchestra" loses nothing in live performance, and reveals the joy that fuels their music. No live dates are scheduled for the immediate future, but we'll keep you updated - and you'll hear "Cameronathon" from the new Syrinx Effect album on The New Cool this Saturday.
This is Women's History Month in the U.S., and Thursday was National Women's Day. Syrinx Effect gives us ample proof that the future is female.
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.