AMN Reviews: Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart – Zenith/Nadir (2022; Tripticks Tapes)

Two of experimental music’s busiest and most creative voices join together on this set of vocal and bass duets. Stewart employs feedback, loops, and effects to generate discordant and boiling noise structures. His instrument’s natural sounds are often hidden to the point of indiscernibility behind these rumbling constructs. Kidambi also makes generous use of effects and processing, with her vocabulary stretching the notion of “singing” to haunting and plaintive wails, chant, and scat. Her wordless vocalizations are largely obscured.

But as Zenith/Nadir progresses, the instrumentation and vocals become more clearly identifiable. Indeed, the second half of the album is a pairing of largely undistorted acoustic bass and voice that serves as a contrast to the heavily distorted predecessor tracks. This progression is perhaps suggested by the title – the highs and lows of the last two years have been uniquely stirring, involving anger, sorrow, frustration, and yet moments of joy as well. Kidambi and Stewart have created a musical expression of these and other emotions that may serve to remind our future selves of this era.

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