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Friday, December 15

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Album Fri May 02 2008

Nicole Mitchell Achieves Xenogenesis

xenogenesis.jpg

Nicole Mitchell continues to grow and impress as a band leader and composer, creating another stellar album that reflects a diverse musical aesthetic and vision. Released this week on Firehouse 12 records, the Chicago based creative flutist and composer has been enjoying an increased awareness of her work in the last year that is sure to continue with Xenogenesis Suite, an album dedicated to the pioneer African American science fiction writer Octavia Butler.

I heard this music once before, in its Chicago debut at the Chicago Cultural Center earlier this year. I left the performance in a musically altered state, having been transfixed and transported by Xenogenesis Suite. The music was expansive, evocative, and perhaps most of all to my ears, a departure from her earlier work stylistically. While it retained her signature flute playing, the compositions were radically different from anything else I had heard from Nicole Mitchell, and if I had to oversimplify a bit, I'd say it was certainly darker than her other work.

So it was with eager anticipation that I awaited the arrival of this album, as I was curious how the power of the live performance of the music would translate to the recorded medium. Having listened to it a dozen plus times since it arrived, I can say with confidence that it makes the transition beautifully, retaining its connotative power.

One of the highest compliments I can pay to this recording is that I always listen to it from beginning to end, and that I don’t really distinguish between separate tracks. It really is a suite in the sense of a continuous flow of feeling and atmosphere that pervades the album. It’s a testament both to Nicole Mitchell’s vision, as well as to her able band’s execution. This is a real, working band, and it shows.

So what does the music sound like? My best description would be otherworldly – there are rhythmically propulsive trance inducing ostinati, glossolalic vocal slurs and murmurs, a strong sense of ensemble and a lack of traditional solos, space imparted by contrasting uses of musical density and silence, and intense dynamic changes. It’s cinematically evocative, and as such extremely effective in creating a musical version of the science fiction fantasy inspired by the work of Octavia Butler.

A fantastic addition to Nicole Mitchell's growing catalog as a composer and musician. Chicago should be proud to call her our own.

Xenogensis Suite can be purchased directly from the label here. Ms. Mitchell will be doing a Chicago album release event on June 19th at Columbia College. This multidisciplinary performance will include collaborations with visual artist Krista Franklin, videographer Floyd Webb and choroegrapher Margaret Morris among others. Stay tuned to Slowdown for details.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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