Gavilan Rayna Russom - The Envoy LP
Edition of 300.
Transdisciplinary NYC artist Gavilán Rayna Russom beautifully comes into her own with a distinguished solo debut album statement including the voice of Cosey Fanni Tutti and brass arrangements by downtown legend Peter Zummo. After decades exploring her sonic personality through here deep immersion in NYC's club and avant-garde scenes, Rayna uses The Envoy as a vessel to firm up and convey her personal conclusions on intersections of gender and electronic music. Enriched with complex human experience and key influence from sci-fi writer Ursula K. Le Guin's novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) – a book with descriptions of an alien race with multiple sexual characteristics – the album is intended to realign misconceptions of Russom's prescient early work such as 2005's The Days of Mars LP for DFA, which arguably foreshadowed a rise of beat-less and more ambiguous urges commonplace in contemporary dance music. With The Envoy, Russom returns to a 2019 music scene that's better prepared with the politics of an emerging new world.
Entwining Russom's perspectives on gender, the occult, and spirituality, and how they relate to the body and music's healing properties, The Envoy expresses the artist's concerns in nine interrelated parts. Practically devoid of percussion, but full of body-moving polyrhythmic pattern, the pieces spill out of the lines of any typically imposed "grid." Within this loose context, porous to the chaos of noise, Russom smudges a blend of analog and digital synths to connote an elusive sense of self. Employing the fluid potential of electronic music at its most fundamental in a way that loops right back to the gliding suspense of her prized early work, literally incorporating elements of solo recordings made in the late '90s in the wake of Russom's psych/noise band, Soma. Unanchored by kicks, yet pulsing in its own ways, the album flows with an underlying elegance from Cosey Fanni Tutti's spellbinding recital of Russom's text in "Kemmer," set to an organic, orgiastic writhe of arps and stressed noise, and on thru the free-floating organ scape of "Envoy," to acknowledge more industrial impulses with "Strength Out of the Dark" and a towering highlight of the album in "Discipline of Presence," where Russom's throbbing mass is hauntingly illuminated by plangent brass arrangement from Peter Zummo (key Arthur Russell collaborator). The ten-minute "Winter" then wraps it all up under a titular reference to Ursula K Le Guin's novel, placing Russom as a filament of solo piano-playing light within the cold expanse of NYC.