20.08.2009 / pointofdeparture.com ( US-internetmag)
Xu Fengxia - L.Niggli - Duo
...Xu is clearly playing by her own rules, evidently transgressing improvisatory codes as well as Chinese musical traditions. The music here possesses tremendous power (as a singer Xu can approach the wail of Sainkho Namchylak), and it’s interesting to hear Xu with a musician who complements and extends the intensity of her more structured work. Niggli can drive the furious rhythmic attack that Xu favors or simply keep time. The title track is an expressionist vocal taking its text from the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.” The structured song “Ride over Blue Sky” begins delicately enough, gradually growing in intensity until Xu’s voice takes in shouts and guttural drones and multiphonics. When she turns to the banjo-like sangian, further weird patterns in world music emerge. “Old Tree” sounds like Xu has found the Cumberland Gap in the Great Wall of China, as she revs up a howling vocal and high-speed banjo-like part that sounds like she’s prepping for dueling banjos with Eugene Chadbourne. Stylistic purity is the last thing this music is concerned with; instead, its vitality engages tradition and freedom, pentatonics and atonality, and maybe even possessive individualism.
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