Bass – Joëlle Léandre
Piano – Elisabeth Harnik
1 Ear Area I
2 Ear Area II
3 Ear Area III
4 Ear Area IV
5 Ear Area V
6 Ear Area VI
Mastered – Jean Marc Foussat
Artwork – Lasse Marhaug
Liner notes – Ken Vandermark (PDF)
Booking: Kato Bookbird
Review in THE WIRE by Daniel Spicer (June 2018):
Joëlle Léandre & Elisabeth Harnik
Tender Music | Trost Records CD/DL
Bassist Joëlle Léandre and pianist Elisabeth Harnik have only been playing together since 2016 but this debut CD – a recording from their third ever performance – reveals a duo who have already developed a highly simpatico and sophisticated approach to spontaneous composition that draws equally on elements of free improvisation and contemporary classical music. Rather than the waxing and waning 40 minute set that presently constitutes a lot of live recordings, there is an adroit attention to form in operation here, as the duo present half a dozen perfectly shaped and finely delineated miniatures, ranging from six to 11 minutes long.
For much of the time, Léandre favours a high, tightly controlled arco full of fragile harmonic overtones that often sounds more like a cello than a double bass. When Harnik responds with pellucid splashes and rippling hazes, the two are capable of creating sustained moods of gentle wonder and delicacy. Léandre adds an element of enigma with her slightly off-mic vocalising: somewhat absent-minded, more overheard than performed, it´s ephemeral, transitory and soothing in its wordless calm, evoking the private musings of a washerwoman at work or a nursing mother cooing her love. One almost feels compelled to lean in and strain the ears, searching for fleeting meaning in her mysterious mutterings.
Many of the pieces are so balanced and sensitively executed that they possess a kind of inevitability. Call it perfection if you prefer. By contrast, the more abstract and experimental gambits gleefully ride a puckish unpredictability: the scritch-scratch of agitated piano strings and polystyrene squeak slotting into Léandre´s multiphonic gossamer arco textures; dirge-like dabs of unhurried bass with arachnoid scuttlings in the body of the piano. But, even at its furthest extent, this music emanates a warmth, a patience and, yes, as the title suggests, a tenderness that´s rarely heard.