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SOPHIE TASSIGNON's Distinctive 'Mysteries Unfold' To Be Released On RareNoiseRecords
(Published: April 06, 2020)

The haunting strains of a distant melody, the resplendent majesty of an angelic choir; the echoing cries of circling birds, the thundering clomp of charging hoofbeats; the menace of an ominous growl, the soul-stirring chime of a tolling bell, the urgency of a percussive rhythm: Sophie Tassignon conjures all of these with only that most beautiful, boundless and mysterious of instruments, the human voice. On her first solo album, Mysteries Unfold, the Belgian-born, Berlin-based vocalist transcends time and language to explore and evoke a stunning panoply of human emotion.

Mysteries Unfold weaves a dazzling sonic tapestry from the varicolored threads of Tassignon's versatile and daring voice. Able to grip the listener's heart with just her emotional expression of a lyric, Tassignon crafts a staggering variety of effects by layering her voice into polyphonic architectures or lush choruses, powerful ensembles or enigmatic atmospheres. Drawing influence from the ancient to the boundary-stretching, she unearths a unifying strain of spiritual longing that underlies the human experience.

Fluent in five languages (and studying a sixth, Arabic) and inspired by a wide range of musical experimentalists, Tassignon brings the whole of her estimable experience to bear on Mysteries Unfold. Over the past 20 years her voice has been heard in a variety of contexts, from avant-garde jazz and free improvisation to theatrical performance and electroacoustic music. She's released eight albums with projects including Charlotte & Mr. Stone (with Simon Vincent), Azolia (co-led by Susanne Folk) and her group Zoshia, as well as collaborations with her husband, saxophonist Peter Van Huffel. She also leads the ensemble Khyal, which blends jazz and Arabic poetry, and has enjoyed a decade-long collaboration with theater director Elzbieta Bednarska.

Mysteries Unfold presents something entirely new, stark in its elements but limitless in its imaginative possibilities. "I've never worked alone before," Tassignon explains. "It was very challenging, musically and emotionally, but it offers so many possibilities. I hope that people will feel like this album takes them to another place, somewhere outside of this reality, where time doesn't exist."

That defiance of time shines through Tassignon's often surprising choice of material for the project. Along with four striking original compositions, the vocalist performs pieces by Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, country songwriter Dolly Parton, Russian bard Yuliy Chersanovich Kim, and folk-rock band Cowboy Junkies. Harmonies that harken back to Gregorian chants coexist with bold, modern electroacoustic experimentation, primal vocalizations with luxurious melodies, yet all sound of a piece through the vessel of Tassignon's virtuoso vocals.

Tassignon also found unifying echoes in the songs' thematic material. Mysteries Unfold is in many ways a celebration of women's stories and the fact that so many of them have been suppressed and silenced throughout the centuries. As Tassignon explains, "I think I was drawn to the title Mysteries Unfold because the Woman has been forced to hide so many feelings throughout her existence, yet they are so rich and compelling, and they become uncovered through these songs."

The title track itself, which closes the album, is a Tassignon original whose tale of "cross[ing] the line too many times" could describe the end of a romance or bemoan the defiance necessary time and again in the struggle for parity. The strength and ferocity necessary to keep fighting those battles is vividly expressed in the opening piece, Kim's "Guby Okayannie," a love song that ends by evoking a female warrior's ride over the Russian steppes, replete with saber-rattling battle cry. Tassignon discovered the song in its far more intimate version from the 1978 Nikita Mikhalkov film Five Evenings.

Bird calls and the hushed roar of water set the scene for "Jolene," Dolly Parton's classic plea from a woman scorned to her auburn-haired rival. Beginning with the heart-wrenching vulnerability of a lone voice against this isolated landscape, the piece gradually builds into a vibrant chorus suggesting the liberation of inner thoughts given open expression. "I wanted it to be as heavenly as possible," Tassignon says. "It's painful and it's beautiful at the same time to be able to say that I'm jealous, that I have pain. I like the contrast of that."

The pulsing, percussive momentum of the singer's "Don't Be So Shy With Me" captures the impulsive urge of a forbidden passion, while the haunting reverberations and whispered secrets of "Descending Tide" embody the essential unknown of another person's most hidden self. The Cowboy Junkies' "Witches," from the Canadian band's 1990 album The Caution Horses, is a call to sisterhood, that ever-threatening bond that the male of the species typically translates into dark sorcery.

Tassignon's "La Nuit," with its skittering provocations and piledriving throbs, pictures the empowerment of self-discovery, a poignant ode to psychoanalysis. Vivaldi's "Cum Dederit," setting the text of an Old Testament Psalm, is a vivid evocation of the simultaneous interior and exterior quest of prayer, searching for the holy in the vast heavens by way of the profound mysteries of the deeply personal.

In a sense that duality and sense of longing is the core emotion of Mysteries Unfold, the timeless theme that weaves together past and present, translates foreign tongues, and connects strangers one to another. Whether the longing for God or a lover, resolution of a universal question or the secrets of one's self, this yearning resonates throughout these songs and is breathed into gorgeous, provocative and moving life through Tassignon's exploratory and dauntless voice.

"I feel that artists exist to feel the emotions of the world," Tassignon concludes, "and to allow those emotions to pass through them in order to express them in a different form. "My goal is simply to touch other human beings and transport them to a moment out of time, just as in a moment of infatuation where nothing else exists besides the present moment and beauty."

TRACKS
1. Gubi Okayannie
2. Jolene
3. Don't Be So Shy With Me
4. Descending Tide
5. Witches
6. La Nuit
7. Cum Dederit
8. Mysteries Unfold

Sophie Tassignon - voice, electronics

CD, LP AND MULTIPLE DIGITAL FORMATS AVAILABLE IN STORES AND ONLINE ON APRIL 24, 2020 AND THROUGH WWW.RARENOISERECORDS.COM.

More Information: http://www.rarenoiserecords.com

Submitted By:

hubtone PR
antje.huebner@hubtonepr.com


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