Kalia Vandever ~ We Fell In Turn

After leading a jazz ensemble on last year’s widely acclaimed album RegrowthKalia Vandever goes solo on We Fell In Turn, an album of trombone, effects and voice, the latter nearly inaudible ~ although one can occasionally hear breath, especially on “We Wept in Turn,” its title tweaked for the main release.

These titles refer to the sensation of waking from a dream of falling, often in tears.  On the surface, this experience sounds terrifying, but Vandever feels the protection of her ‘aumākua, the spirit guides of her Hawai’ian ancestry.  As a result, the 31-minute set feels dreamlike and comforting, a woven shawl of sound.  Ironically, the most tempo-driven piece is called “Stillness in Hand,” a reminder of how active the imagination can be when the body is immobile.  The majority of the tracks exude a wispy peace, beginning with “Reflections From Shore,” which may refer to the shore of the subconscious mind after the dreamer exits from the sea.

Two of the tracks also come with gorgeous videos, opening a world of possible interpretations.  “Mirrored Solitude” is a study of emotions and expressions, a rotating wheel that may produce empathy, or at the very least, recognition.  “Temper the Wound” focuses on the right hand, which takes inventory of grasses, pond and self.  The most intriguing facet: people are walking within the stigmata.  The videos are extended loops, mimicking the construction of certain tracks, trombone line and image circling back like recurring dreams.

“Teased Traces” emerges from the wound with sonic echoes, neither good nor bad, like ripples of memory.  Vandever uses her spirits to make peace with her ghosts.  While there is no resolution to the struggle, the closing title, “Unfaltering,” suggests the development of inner strength, the hard-won kernel of perspective: no longer falling, but standing on stable ground.  (Richard Allen)

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