The physics of how unsung words and music become sensible in the act of listening lies both in the form and the content of the recording, Phenomena of Interference, from poet, Steve Dalachinsky, and pianist, Matthew Shipp.
‘Interference’ is a scientific term which is used to describe patterns in which sound waves of the same nature intersect. Twenty-two poems and music have intersected in Phenomena of Interference in ways that are unpredictable but subliminally comprehensible. Since, theoretically, music is understood as a seminal influence for the formation of words as opposed to the other way around, it is no surprise, therefore, that the relationship between Dalachinsky’s words and Shipp’s music is far from disquieting.
The sound character and timbre of the words are partially created by Dalachinsky’s delivery. The poet's accent adds hollowness to his gravelly voice. Using it, he weaves fibrous textures that blend with and are counteracted by the vibrant and resonant tones from the piano. What is amazing is the interconnectedness of the pacing, the metering and the methodology behind both the speech and the piano lines. Shipp listens to the words and the metaphors they construct and interprets them musically. His procedure is really quite elegant and simple. Even though Shipp twice uses the piano sounding board as drums, the overall rhythm of Shipp’s tuneful, reflective improvisation incorporates itself so tightly with the words that the two media seem inseparable. The duo’s correspondence is also strengthened with the conceptual overlap between the subject matter of poetry and Shipp’s fairly well-known approach to life and music.
Dalachinsky’s poetry carries no pretense within its strange lyricism. A great deal of the poetry is about music, but it is also about universality and delusion and proposes a philosophy encompassing psychology and science. The poet’s words are instrumental and bear the cadence of music. Careful listening permits hearing his words as notes, chords, and collections of phrases. Although it is sometimes difficult aurally to connect non-speaking sounds and spoken words, the witnessing of the words apart from their meaning can be the key to registering their sonic impact. In Dalachinsky’s poetry, you can hear tones that echo the blues key, alliterative runs, vocal trills and even effects similar to those produced with a piano pedal, simply because he changes the shape of his mouth in uttering vowels.
This recording displays a solid collaboration. It represents a sliver of compact information. Appreciation of it might require listening many times so that you can hear the way the music from the piano peels off or hooks up to the illustrative words and the way the words slam into or melt away from the illuminating melodies from the piano. The identity of the total package is an ever-expanding gift, which is, in turn, the result of a dynamic sound-and-meaning exploration laced with dedication and patience.