The new album of Paris-based alto sax player Christine Abdelnour and Berlin-based hyper-pianist Magda Mayas is titled after a quote by French dramatist, poet, essayist, actor, and theatre director Antonin Artaud, known for conceptualizing the ‘Theatre of Cruelty’: «This is why true beauty never strikes us directly. The setting sun is beautiful because of all it makes us lose». And, indeed, this album suggests a true yet uncommon kind of rare beauty, a demanding kind of beauty that calls for great focus and total commitment. The Norwegian label Sofa Music thought that such beauty justifies choosing it to begin its 20 years anniversary.
The duo of Abdelnour and Mayas began to work together in 2009 and «The Setting Sun Is Beautiful Because Of All It Makes Us Lose» follows the duo previous albums «Teeming» (Olof Bright, 2010) and «Myriad» (Unsounds 2012), and was recorded live at Ultima Festival in Oslo, September 2018. Abdelnour and Mayas are sonic alchemists who wish to extend the sonic vocabularies of their respected instruments by employing an array of personal, extended techniques while using amplification, preparations, and various objects. But there is much more in this album than these highly inventive techniques and the necessary, deep listening that such a fully improvised setting demands.
Abdelnour and Mayas suggest a delicate texture where few story-like veins intersect, collide, and expand with a constant flow of ideas and colors and great detail. They move as one, with a profound understanding of each other’s unique language, and throughout the 35-minutes title-piece, engage the attentive listener with fascinating sounds and dynamics that immediately erase the sonic barrier between their own instruments as well as other wind and percussive instruments, real or imagined. This piece flows through exotic, somehow abstract sceneries, as in a meditative-psychedelic dream, never settle on familiar, predictable patterns and always offer new, deeper perspectives to the strong musical bond of Abdelnour and Mayas. There are few segments when both Abdelnour and Mayas build a brief, noisy tension, but most of the time they act and sound like one highly verbal but quite peaceful entity and towards the end of this piece even sound as if singing together a very secretive song that is surprisingly touching and melodic.
Indeed, a true and rare beauty.
Christine Abdelnour (as), Magda Mayas (p)