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Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air

Mary Halvorson

Guitarist Mary Halvorson and violist Jessica Pavone have produced intriguing-cum-unsettling music together in Anthony Braxton’s 12tet + 1, as well as on a previous duo outing, On and Off. Yet even listeners familiar with those releases might feel jarred by what emanates in the opening seconds of Thin Air: their singing voices. The harmonies that hang over a spare guitar melody aren’t flat, but they aren’t sweet either. Microtonal might be a more accurate description of their gothic-folk delivery, putting it closer to Halvorson’s rock-oriented duo project People than any of their jazz-related efforts. The unsettling voices show in a number of different ways in the stark music. In the title track, dirgelike verses continually explode into sections of free skronking. Voices don’t enter until the end of “Sinking” to offer a closing statement to a cross-breed of semi-country twang and guitar fuzz.

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