Off Jazz | The Other Life of Erika Angell

par Alain Brunet

Erika Angell’s artistic life is distinct from that of her excellent band Thus Owls, whose creative core she forms with her guitarist husband, Simon Angell. She is becoming increasingly regular, notably as part of the trio Beatings Are in The Body, which we heard last June at Suoni Per Il Popolo, and more recently Sunday evening in solo and duo at Le Ministère, as part of the Off Festival de jazz de Montréal.

Poetry, song and sound are at the heart of this subtle, unique approach. The magnificent voice of this gifted Montreal artist is the absolute lever of her expression; the choice of words (English and Swedish, her mother tongue), sometimes declaimed without melody, is also brilliant but does not serve songs built on frameworks that have been standardized for ages. Musically, Erika Angell uses continuous synthetic sounds, a kind of drone around which she makes brilliant superimpositions. The musician is equipped with a small keyboard, light percussion and other electronic tools, which she uses in real-time. The compositional structures are not complex in themselves, but a melodic-harmonic continuum on which various ornaments of varying degrees of intensity are placed. And it does!

A kind of exploratory ambient music with sung or spoken texts, Erika Angell’s art can also involve the intervention of drummer Mili Hong, a Canadian resident originally from South Korea. This gifted percussionist can intervene randomly with the updated vocabulary of free jazz, but can also express her skill on sustained rhythms. She listens carefully to Erika Angell’s ideas and adds to those of her employee, who, at the risk of rambling, deserves to be known and recognized for her true worth.

Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dubé

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