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Wood River/Charlotte Greve & Cantus Domus - Sediments We Move (New Amsterdam)

22 December 2021

Despite the insistence on genre distinctions enforced as much by fandom as the industry itself, musicians themselves rarely think of themselves as bound to one thing, and one thing only. When the creativity flows, boundaries shimmer and fade, colors blur together, and new experiences grow. The artist feels free and the audience often marvels at the results in a way that changes their relationship to the oeuvre.

Charlotte Greve revels in this notion on Sediments We Move. The German saxophonist, singer and composer has been best known for her jazz work up until now, but here the notion of a singular style of music gets obliterated. Joined by her band Wood River (guitarist Keisuke Matsuno,, bassist Simon Jermyn, drummer Jim Black) and the choral ensemble Cantus Domus, under the direction of Ralf Sochaczewsky, Greve generates a magnificent seven-part piece that draws on multiple musical forms: avant-garde jazz, progressive rock, modern classical, choral music, singer/songwriter pop, noise rock and even bits of doom metal. “Part II” presents a crash course in her musical direction, with a melody that’s accessible, yet hides dissonance under its lush arrangements; an ethereal chorus floating above like phantoms conveying an important message; and drums that treat the beat as a suggestion instead of an order. “Part IV” explores extremes in dynamics: atmospheric hums evolving/devolving into feverish electric guitar noise, followed by a shimmering vocal ensemble duetting with the leader’s own probing saxophone. “Part V” lets Black run wild at the beginning, splashing toms and cymbals across a rhythm more hinted than expressed, before the drummer locks into the backbeat to let Matsuno and the singers dispatch the melody with a combination of dreamy textures and rock guitars.

With a libretto from her brother Julius, Greve conjures up a song cycle that uses her own family as a basis, but spreads its wings far beyond expression of personal joys and sorrows. The borderless music compliments the wide arc of its emotional sentiments, taking in all who hear. Sediments We Move sounds like it arrives from another dimension, one that might have spikes hidden into its folds, but nevertheless invites its observers in with open arms and an even wider open heart.