Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre, 2022)

February 26, 2022 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance

Composer and bassoonist Joy Guidry’s debut album is a powerful statement of purpose. They preface everything with an attention-grabbing intro titled “Just Because I Have a Dick Doesn’t Mean I’m a Man”, which sounds like a casual interview clip in which the artist describes their gender dysphoria and how they learned to accept themselves as a queer, trans, fat, Black, nonbinary person. Their speech is so matter-of-fact, candid, and self-assured, and I would love to hear them speak for much longer, but this isn’t a spoken word album. From there, it’s hard to predict where this album is going to go, and it inhabits a lot of spaces. A brief gospel interlude provides the only other verbal expression on the album, otherwise Guidry uses music to interpret their journey to self acceptance. From the minimalist dark ambient drone “Face to Face”, we are thrown into the turbulent vortex of “Inner Child”, an ecstatic to the point of frightful free jazz piece which moves from a multi-drum attack to trebly reed screeching to sparse, intimate bassoon melodies. “Why Is Toxicity So Yummy?” is also tense and overwhelming, gradually piling on more and more chaotic elements, and “How to Breathe While Dying” sounds as strenuous as its title. “Voices of the Ancestors” is a live spiritual jazz piece which sounds deeply comforting, the hand percussion especially just feels nourishing. The album ends with “Grace”, an ambient reflection which just feels like a pure beam of light and like the album’s intro track, I would find a longer version, or an expansion on this idea, most welcome. I’m happy to hear anything Joy has to say, honestly, and I find their message of radical acceptance to be truly inspirational.

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