Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE, 2017)

April 28, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds

Chicago flautist Nicole Mitchell’s latest album (recorded live at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2015) is based on a concept of combining dualities, considering the idea of smashing utopia and dystopia together. Acoustic and electric instruments are juxtaposed in order to explore an advanced society in harmony with nature. The album seems to be primarily acoustic, with strings, percussion, and Japanese instruments such as shamisen and shakuhachi credited along with electric guitar, theremin, and electronics. At times it’s dissonant in an avant-rock way. In other moments, it’s trippy, evocative, and otherworldly. During the album’s second half, vocalist avery r young gives a voice to Mitchell’s lyrics about earthly struggles. He seems to creep up to the stage from the back of the room during the gospel-inflected “Staircase Struggle”. “Shiny Divider” is a bit more bluesy, speaking frankly of bloodshed and demanding that humanity finds a solution. After the lengthy instrumental “Mandorla Island”, young returns on “TineWrap”, referencing heavy labor in fields and on railroads, and explaining how determination is crucial to the survival of humanity. A powerful album which (unfortunately) is even more relevant now than when it was composed and recorded.

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