Sophie Cooper continues her high-busyness, high-quality streak with a further collaboration with improvising French singer and pianist Delphine Dora, developed in 2016. Divine Ekstasys moves through drones and atmospheres so intuitively you are hardly aware of the journey: you simply move with the dark magic of the proceedings. LP with lush artwork on Feeding Tube Records.
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Super duo Dora and Cooper collaborate once more for a record of myriad shenanigans. Here you’ve got two multi-instrumentalists keen on extended improvisation, letting you listen. Between them the musical spreadsheet counts piano, organ, vox, trombone, electric guitar and vocals, along with searing electronics provided by Cooper.
A versatile record of patient sparsity and texturual muk, it sounds at turns liturgical, horrifying and freewheeling, even deviating into what could sound like a broken video game soundtrack on “Invisible Gesture IV”. It makes sense it can be this many things, of course, because the work sounds largely responsive, both players reacting to the other in tandem: “Hallucinations” loops Dora’s whispered vocals alongside Cooper’s droning and occasionally stammering trombone, the two eventually developing from almost ASMR origins into something busy and blusterous. It feels like the true meaning of improv, if there can be one -- something can start uncertain and finish ecstatic.
The press sheet for this one says that people like to compare Dora to Charlie Palestine and Marian Zazeela, pioneers of the early drone communities that became hip back in the days of Velvets-dwelling New York. It also notes she refutes that comparison, considering herself a folk artist. The set-up here offers both: these songs feel closer to having those roots, albeit with an unknown, ever-improvised approach. Together, Dora and Cooper make stunning music that can sound anthemic even as it plumbs unexplored depths.
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