Torontonian Lara Solnicki invites us to follow her in an Alice-in-Wonderland-ish but mesmerising journey with her brand new album called The One And The Other, just out on Outside In Music. Solnicki not only sings (wonderfully and even more wondrously when using her flat, vibrato-less voice, for my taste anyway), but she is also the composer and author of the entire cycle of seven little ‘’tone poems’’ as she calls the pieces on the album. She is clearly a most complete artist playing acrobatically with the most diverse influences, but all coming from some of the best and most educated sources available. There is jazz, of course, both modern and contemporary, even free, with classical references ranging from Debussy and Ravel to Bach, with some echoes of Meredith Monk’s vocal improvisations here and there. Texts are rooted in a very profound comprehension of the worlds of Baudelaire, René Char, Octavio Paz or Sylvia Plath. All those inspiring personas are there, dancing like shadows informing, and being informed by Solnicki’s vast oecumenical creative instincts.
The One And The Other is a deconstructing experience of usual musical a prioris. It is an exercise in alteration, but always, always connected to a familiar core, be it melodic or atmospheric. Knowledgeable music lovers will have a lot to appreciate here, and newcomers to such a creative musical world will not be (too) rough-and-tumbled by this essential listen. They will discover a rich and very stimulating sound universe.
There is something of the (also) eclectic South-Korean Youn Sun-Nah in Lara Solnicki’s attitude about music making. But she does her very own thing, and never mimics anything from her asian colleague. Anyway, she offers a completely different listening experience than more famous canadian colleagues of hers, like Carol Welsman, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Nikki Yanofsky or Alex Pangman.
I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the performances of Solnicki’s accompanying musicians! Wonderful, attentive, and inspired playing by Jonathan Goldsmith (producer, keyboards, electronics, electric bass, electric guitar), Peter Lutek (alto saxophone, electro-acoustic clarinet and bassoon), Hugh Marsh (electric violin), Rob Piltch (electric and acoustic guitars), Scott Peterson (electric and acoustic bass), Rich Brown (electric bass) and Davide Di Renzo (drums). Bra-vo!
The One And The Other is a tour de force of immense artistic relevance. In a musical industry (jeez, do I hate that word) still so obsessed by stiff categorizations, this brilliant artist has some hard time finding her place and seems to be relegated in some kind of zero-gravity No Man’s Land where few seem able to find the courage to program her work in concerts or festivals. That is why, as long as she continues on this mostly untravelled but inspiring road of modern artistic excellence, Pan M 360 will remain her devoted friend.