Boomkat Product Review:
Major, brilliant new work from acclaimed artist Ashley Paul following various collaborations with Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton, Mary Jane Leach, Rhys Chatham and Thurston Moore, debuting here for the Slip label following her last album 'Heat Source' for Important in 2014.
Singular avant garde voice Ashley Paul commits a bewitching début to Slip with Lost In Shadows; a tender yet discordant suite inspired by her new role as mother to a young child. Few would call Ashley’s music “easy”, but it is also heavily rewarding in its own, uncompromising way and now finds its audience on the acclaimed Slip imprint amid a roster of boundary-morphing composers including Chaines, Mica Levi & Oliver Coates, Yeah You, and Laurie Tompkins.
Recorded over three weeks at FUGA in Zaragoza, Spain and premiered at Counterflows 2017, on Lost In Shadows Ashley plays guitar, sax, clarinet, voice and percussion. In a mark of distance travelled since her last album, however, she draws on recent collaborations and work with pre-eminent composers such as Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton and Rhys Chatham to also delegate roles to a new ensemble of players on tuba, baritone sax, cello and percussion, who serve to render the dynamics of her music with stronger attention to bass rhythms and intricate, iridescent dissonance.
The expanded personnel lend new flesh to Ashley’s work, hingeing around her tremulous vocals and bringing her ideas to life in 11 parts that hold to a perceptive knife edge between lullaby-like and restlessly tooth-achy: mixing the off-key filigree of her vocals at asymmetric tonal angles to the instrumentals - a solution of jazz, chamber music, modern composition and folk craft expressing a complexity of ideas that may well have fallen apart if handled by composers unable to hold their nerve quite as well as Ashley.
As with all her works, a sense of intuitive, instinctive alchemy is at the core of the album, as Ashley’s jarring tonal juxtapositions and her own elusive vocals act out a metaphor for the challenge of nurturing new relationships in testing circumstances, an experience she describes as “many hours spent awake at night in a dream like state of half consciousness, darkness and solitude; an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and exhaustion made light by a profound new love.”
Ultimately, the results are cranky as much as they are delirious, uncannily relaying a state of mind and sensations which will only ever be felt by some of its potential listeners, yet offers myriad possibilities for interpretation to all.