Country : Québec Label : Indépendant Genres and styles : Ambient Folk / Avant-Garde / Contemporary / Post-Minimalist Year : 2024

Allison Burik – Realm

· by Frédéric Cardin

The saxophonist Allison Burik is a native of Kansas City but has been enriching Montreal’s musical life for several years now. She who also plays flute, bass clarinet, guitar in addition to singing is known elsewhere for her part in the Bellbird collective and the Umbrella Pine duo, as well as being a regular contributor to Mali Obomsawin‘s projects. 

Psst: see also my review of Bellbird’s album Root in Tandem

I have a serious crush on this album, which blurs the boundaries between ambient folk, post-minimalism and the avant-garde. Realm is a solo album “in duo or more”, thanks to the magic of multitracking and the artist’s instrumental versatility. Burik performs some fascinating expressive feats here, in which gritty avant-gardism acts as a spice occasionally used to edge up an evocative, cinematic general feeling. 

The artist has immersed herself in Icelandic nature to stimulate her creativity for Realm. When she sings, we are reminded of a certain Icelandic indie panorama: Sigur Ros or Múm, but more folk, more roots, despite the soaring electro ambiences that accompany the vocals and the sustained, calm notes of the various instruments used.

Occasionally it becomes more disturbing, as in Birka 581, where the artist sings while blowing into her bass clarinet. The effect is vaguely similar to that of Inuit throat singers, but more mineral, almost chtonic! Fabulous. But this kind of moment remains in the minority, as the rest of the programme is remarkably accessible (provided you want to explore a little further than Swiftism…..). Listen to Fragment 94, As the Norns Weave and Be the Dragon and you’ll have a perfect idea of the range of affects of this excellent album.

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