A Closer Listen - The Exquisite Corpse


"Over the course of an hour, eleven artists (twelve if you count the duo) adopt what they wish to salvage or repeat in the work of the prior contributor.  As expected, the piano and strings continue to sound like Kardos in Madeleine Cocolas’ “Stalactite”, which comes across as a reinvention.  But as the markers are blurred or erased (like pencil lines, faded yet still discernible), the song begins to morph.  Put to rest any fears that listening to The Exquisite Corpse is like listening to a long remix album, because it’s a set of constant change.

New elements enter almost immediately ~ voice in the first, followed by Ed Carlsen’s peculating percussion in the second.  Tambour knocks the music back to modern classicism, adding a sense of sudden poignance.  One begins to realize the importance of tone in interpretation: more than just the notes, but the feeling embedded in the notes.  And oh, those bells!  The opening minute of Jim Perkins’ “Flutter” turns the proceedings decidedly dark (blame the cello!), but when the deep drums enter, the track becomes a battle between darkness and light, the final victor yet to be decided.  Lorenzo Masotto wrenches the piece in the direction of the sun ~ which is when an unexpected visitor appears.

Look what they’ve done to my song, Ma!  Yes, it’s Kardos herself, pressing reset, reeling it all in.  But instead of being horrified, she seems pleased, making only minor modifications, ending in static ~ a thread picked up by Mark Harris at the beginning of his elongated entry.  Holkham pushes things even further, adopting the ambience of Harris for a nearly nine minute extension.  Where is the original?  By now, it’s hard to tell.  When applied to the process, the title of Antonymes’ “Half Life” says it all.  The elements break down over time.  Jacob David and Thomas Haahr slowly spin down into a segment of quiet field recordings before Linghas brings it full circle ~ a cylinder instead of a straight line.  We can start again from here.  The corpse is exquisite, but very much alive." (Richard Allen)