(Confront)

Originated in 2019, Jane In Ether is a trio of sympathetic musicians who have reached levels of cohesiveness and intuition of the expressive movement that are typical of ensembles established for much longer. All the more remarkable, when one considers the diversity of each member’s background. Free-spirited Miako Klein (recorders) and Biliana Voutchkova (violin, voice) are both active parts of cross-disciplinary, multi-genre networks encompassing repertoires from various eras executed by reputable collectives, academic or less. For quite a while now, Magda Mayas (piano) has been known for undeniable improvisational and compositional abilities, displayed across countless collaborations.

“Spoken / Unspoken” is a fitting title to capture the underlying vibrancy of these five tracks. The scale from “near-zero” quietness to complex (and occasionally clangorous) timbral aggregation is covered in most of its gradations. Enigmatic tones produced by intrinsically visionary performers are often intermingled in such a way as to raise additional doubts in the listener. Not infrequently the essential properties of a given instrument are deliberately altered by the use of extended techniques. The flutes become conduits for percussive pulse or muffled lament; the piano chirrups like a rare bird, or squeaks as an ancient loom. The violin’s crackling may remind us of a woodworm-ridden ceiling. But when the souls decide to burst into chant, stunning sections of heterogeneous drones leave us dumbstruck, until they return to the unearthly whispers from which everything had begun.

Finally, it is appropriate to spend a few words to emphasize the artistic and sonic consistency of Mark Wastell’s label. Operating since this reviewer was still a young man, it cannot be commended enough for the wide range of human dimensions, acoustic combos and compelling concepts offered through all this time. Much of the finest music that connects honest zen accents with improvisation driven by a genuine inner focus can be found on Confront. Jane In Ether’s disc — coming as always in an elegantly stark package — is another outstanding chapter of this book.

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