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Skylighgh is the debut album of the experimental duo of Brooklyn-based vocalist-songwriter-multidisciplinary performance creator-composer with operatic training Gelsey Bell and Canadian-American saxophonist-composer-improviser Erin Rogers, who have performed together for more than a decade. Skylighght was inspired and corresponded with American poet Aram Saroyan’s infamous one-word poem lighght, described by the poet as a way «to try and make the ineffable, which is light… into a thing. An extra ‘gh’ does it…».

Skylighght, in a similar manner, attempts to merge the physical acoustic elements of resonance, timbre, and breath into intangible expressive energies. Bell sings directly into the bell of Rogers’ saxophone; her voice travels through the horn up to the reed, creating competing columns of sound waves to be manipulated while Rogers is playing. The physical vibrations and resonance tones clash, combine, and unite to create rich, vibrant harmonies, harsh dissonances, and stunning different tones, as the two musicians become one.

In 2022, Bell and Rogers published a prose score to Skylighght in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, in which they wrote: «The goal of this section is for the performers to find the pitches that make multiphonics and lean into them. The pitch and pressure of the voice in the bell push the saxophone tone into different harmonic regions, splitting the pitch at times, or coaxing it to match distant partials».

The five pieces were composed collaboratively, suggesting distinct and innovative approaches to structuring ethereal and highly sensitive textures, focusing on a specific set of techniques or strategies. But all unite and resonate Bell and Rogers’ hyper-awareness of the acoustic environments, their highly personal articulate sounds, tonalities and multiphonics. The resonance of the recording space – The Catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery – intensifies the performance with another vibrant, mysterious layer of its own. Bell and Rogers sculpt the poetic interwoven resonances of these five pieces like improvised choreography, with the two performers following the sounds linked in the movement of pitch and pulse, with an impressive sense of structure and emotional drama. The intimate moods of the pieces range from serene to yearning to discordant, often within a single composition, yet a sense of reserved stillness is kept throughout Skylighght.

Skylighght offers a highly stimulating and profoundly immersive listening experience.

Eyal Hareuveni

Gelsey Bell (voice), Erin Rogers (saxophone)