AMN Reviews: Jessica Pavone – When No One Around You is There but Nowhere to be Found (2022; Relative Pitch)

It is no secret that each new release from violist Jessica Pavone is an event of note in these parts. Whether with a string octet, string quartet, or in solo form, she surprises the listener more often than not with music that crosses the classical / improvisation divide while exploring the sonic vocabulary of her instrument.

When No One Around You is There but Nowhere to be Found is a 30-minute solo recording consisting of four tracks. Pavone takes an approach that is both intellectual and playful, whether scraping harsh drones out of her strings or plucking to support spoken-word poetry. She also employs various levels of processing, particularly some form of looping, echo, or sustain that holds and manipulates notes slowly over time. As a result, some aspects of these tracks are largely sculpted sounds, where the source instrument is barely discernable and Pavone experiments with repetition.

Like many solo releases over the last two years, there is more than a hint of desperation and loss reflected in this album, perhaps as an accepting melancholy more than outright pain. That expressiveness, coupled with Pavone’s technical abilities, results in yet another solid and compelling achievement from the oeuvre of an accomplished and still-growing artist.

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