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Exploring the Sonic Depths of Mary Halvorson’s Cloudward

Cloudward, the second album by Amaryllis, showcases the multifaceted talent of guitarist-composer Mary Halvorson. Throughout the album, Halvorson demonstrates her ability to create a captivating musical landscape, blending elements of jazz, experimental, and avant-garde styles. While her earlier tracks on the album exhibit a subtler approach, it is in the latter half that Halvorson truly unleashes the gnarly, distorted potential of her signature array of pedals and DL4 Delay Modeler.

One of the standout tracks on Cloudward is “Desiderata,” where Halvorson’s guitar takes center stage. With her masterful command of effects, she creates a sonic storm that captivates the listener. The combination of her intricate playing and the pulsating rhythm section provided by trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, trombonist Jacob Garchik, and vibraphonist Patricia Brennan results in a thrilling musical experience.

In addition to her bandmates, Halvorson collaborates with jazz-pixie elder Laurie Anderson on the track “Incarnadine.” Anderson’s modified violin adds an ethereal quality to the composition, transporting the listener to astral realms. The languid pace of the piece allows the musicians to explore the sonic space fully, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere.

As Cloudward draws to a close, the album takes a gospel-tinged turn with the track “Ultramarine.” Halvorson and her band infuse the composition with a sense of elation, bringing the listener to a state of musical bliss. The combination of the jubilant melodies and the tight interplay between the musicians creates a powerful and uplifting finale.

Throughout Cloudward, Halvorson’s guitar playing is characterized by its versatility and unique voice. She seamlessly blends different genres, pushing the boundaries of traditional jazz guitar. Her use of pedals and the DL4 Delay Modeler allows her to create a wide range of textures and tones, adding depth and complexity to her compositions.

Halvorson’s approach to music is characterized by an active voice, as she fearlessly explores new sonic territories. Her compositions are not merely passive creations but rather active expressions of her artistic vision. She pushes the boundaries of what is expected, challenging the listener to engage with the music on a deeper level.

Cloudward is a testament to Mary Halvorson’s talent as a guitarist-composer. Her ability to create intricate compositions that seamlessly blend different genres is truly remarkable. Whether she is playing with subtlety or unleashing the full power of her effects pedals, Halvorson captivates the listener with her unique musical voice.

In conclusion, Cloudward is a captivating album that showcases the immense talent of Mary Halvorson and her band Amaryllis. From the subtler tracks to the more experimental and distorted pieces, Halvorson’s guitar playing leaves a lasting impression. With each composition, she pushes the boundaries of what is expected, creating a sonic journey that is both exhilarating and thought-provoking. Cloudward is a must-listen for anyone interested in exploring the depths of contemporary jazz and experimental music.

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