November 2014 National Music Reviews

Review: Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim – Avatar Woman

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Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim
Avatar Woman
Public Eyesore Records
Street: 03.01
Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim = Pentangle + Nurse with Wound – Steely Dan
I knew I’d heard of Alan Sondheim somewhere. Not the Broadway producer Stephen Sondheim, but a contributor to the Poetics mailing list for experimental L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry to which I used to subscribe. Sondheim, it turns out, is also a polymath when it comes to playing a plethora of musical instruments, from violin to electric guitar and oud. This CD, with his partner, artist and singer/songwriter Azure Carter, is only his latest musical musing, having released several fairly obscure discs going back to the 1960s, and enjoying a resurgence now. These musical gestures, whether tinged with jazz, experimental, Middle Eastern or folk music, are based on his theories about online presence, especially the online virtual world Second Life. What does virtuality say about how we live now? They might not arrive at answers, but Carter, with her wonderfully and oddly expressive poetic voice, deftly sings the situation. There is ‘freak folk’ that is sometimes generic, and then there is this oddity that hearks back to the likes of American eccentrics like Harry Partch and John Cage. –Stakerized!