‘Palimpsest’ from Madame Česki - free-ranging, experimental improvisation

(December 06, 2015)

There’s an impression of ‘widening gyres’ that makes grasping and comprehending something of a task with ‘Palimpsest’ from Madame Česki (aka violinist Francesca Simmons) ... and as the poet said there’s palimpsests 001always the feeling ‘the centre cannot hold’. Frequent listening helps but many people may not get beyond the first hearing and fail to absorb its free-ranging, experimental improvisation. The songs reflect soaring vocal aerobatics that coil and fly about your ears, augmented by complex and intricate musical twists and turns with strange and somewhat disquieting electronics and samples. Not an album to sing along to.

The album opens with ‘The Book of David’ introducing the vocal and musical exploration, and then ‘Flying’ swoops in with more extemporisation to absorb. The inventiveness continues with the frenetic and slightly ominous ‘Bone Spoon’ before the soaring instrumental ‘Lonely Waltz’ spins its web of interest and then comes ‘Moon Day Walk’, peppered with soundbites from NASA and JFK. The press release called this ‘freak folk chamber music songs’ … well it’s freaky for certain. Believe me, I did try hard to connect with it but perhaps ‘Palimpsest’ is a touch too far out towards left-field for me but I’m sure it will find its aficionados.


 Review: Charlie Elland

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