Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld, Health & Beauty | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld, Health & Beauty 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Tue., Aug. 9, 8:30 p.m. 2016

On last year’s contemplative Never Were the Way She Was (Constellation) saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire) beautifully combine their respective solo practices, managing to retain identities they forged alone while still complementing each other. The former has developed a stunning method that uses a multitude of microphones to capture an orchestra-like sound in real time via a single reed instrument, without looping or overdubbing (here he adds contrabass clarinet to his usual bass and tenor saxophones). His disciplined circular breathing generates remarkable harmonic effects that make it sound as though he’s playing multiple lines at once, and he adds to that the percussive clacking of his sax pads and vocal sounds picked up through contact mikes attached to his throat. As heard on her lovely 2013 album Hero Brother, Neufeld braids classic minimalist concepts with melodies borrowing from European folk tradition, creating a sound akin to new-music pianists like Hauschka and Nils Frahm. Stetson provides the muscle on the album, his throbbing bass-sax patterns providing both low end and drive, but Neufeld’s ethereal, repeating double stops and snaking, striated notes fill empty spaces, floating around her partner’s sonic armature. Sometimes the players create shimmering counterpoint, as on the feverishly churning “In the Vespers,” while on the dreamy “Won’t Be a Thing to Come” their lines cradle one another, intimately aligning as her vocals provide another gauzy layer of melody.

Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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