Sophia Domancich/Raphaël Marc

Lilienmund
Sans Bruit sbr009

Showing a hitherto unexposed side of her creativity here, French pianist Sophia Domancich enthusiastically adapts her playing to samples of pre-recorded instrumental and vocal work trans-mutated electronically by sound designer Raphaël Marc. The resulting is as mesmerizing as it is magisterial.

More usually found in the company of British Prog Rock-Jazz players such as saxophonist Elton Dean and bassist Paul Rogers, or playing straight-ahead Jazz with drummer Simon Goubert or as part of l’Orchestre National de Jazz, Lilienmund is a significant departure for Domancich. Although the samples encompass variants of Robert Schumann’s Heinrich Heine-influenced leider, A Poet’s Love; Qigang Chen’s Iris dévoilée; and Alban Berg’s Lulu; her diffident response threads taunt improvisation and traditional Jazz-influenced reflections among the romantic accompaniment.

Nonetheless, even these latter impressionistic asides seem more pro forma than protracted. While they’re trotted out to affirm her traditional skills, they’re subsequently almost negated by the staccato harshness in her playing. Should a bel canto voice begin emoting for instance, the keyboard response involves andante and diffuse lines. Or if Marc’s quivering metallic scrunches, wiggling voltage echoes and thumping ring-modulator-like pulses are evident; her chording accelerates to music-box like clatters and rebounds.

Paradoxically as well, when the sound field becomes too overcrowded – as when projections of operatic crescendos are thickened with buzzing wave forms and near dance-music drum track – Domancich’s quirky responses border on stride piano. Using the pedals for emphasis, she also seems to interrupt her own theme variations to toughen the bass part with portamento runs in the instrument’s lowest quadrant. In other instances she plays it straight, with Bill Evans-style voicing, blues progressions or showy glissandi. But overall, her best sonic defense seems to be offence, with speedy runs coupled with secondary key clanking commenting on the Marc-processed flanges which on their part reduce some samples to mere squeaks while amplifying others to fortissimo echoes.

Whether Lilienmund marks a direction change in Domancich’s career or merely a bagatelle is unclear four years after this CD was recorded. But it does make for novel and fascinating listening.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Lilienmund Part I 2. Lilienmund Part II 3. Lilienmund Part III 4.Lilienmund Part IV 5. Lilienmund Part V* 6. Lilienmund Part VI

Personnel: Sophia Domancich (piano and samplers); Raphaël Marc (electronics and samplers) and Simon Goubert (drums)*