AMN Reviews: Nicole Mitchell and Moor Mother – Offering – Live at Le Guess Who (2020; Don Giovanni Records)

Flautist Nicole Mitchell and Moor Mother teamed for this performance at 2018’s Le Guess Who Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Mitchell is a former chair of the AACM who has been producing a consistent run of forward-looking, genre-fusing albums over two decades. She is currently a professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh. Moor Mother is the stage name of Camae Ayewa, who has been a busy collaborator and solo artist in the last several years, focusing on noise, improvisation, and spoken-word recordings and performances across a similarly broad set of genres.

Offering consists of three long, psychedelic tracks. Without knowing beforehand that this effort is a duo, one might think that it is a larger ensemble. This is likely due to the layering of electronics and effects. Drones, percussion, and processed elements loop and wash under flute lines and Moor Mother’s vocalizations. While parts of this performance may have been planned, it comes across as a 45-minute stream of consciousness with chanted poetry. There is a certain darkness that pervades the recording, both lyrically and atmospherically. Indeed, Mitchell and Moor Mother both pile abstractions atop abstractions, while the latter verbally expresses a range of emotions, from pain to aggression to longing.

To be clear, this is a tough album to categorize, and words are not going to suffice. Listen to a sample or two. Nonetheless, Offering has been on heavy rotation here for several days in efforts to unpack its multi-dimensional complexity.