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Sample Track 1:
"On the Root - Earth" from Inelement
Sample Track 2:
"Beyond These Things - All Elements" from Inelement
Layer 2
SoCorpo, Inelement (Ears Wide Open Records) Natural Progression, Spontaneous Creation: Innovative Vocal Improvisers SoCorpo’s Otherworldly, Earthy Sound

New studio album, Inelement, and upcoming NYC performances, June and July 2013

Earth, water, fire, air, and the void: For millennia, thinkers and artists across the planet have contemplated these basic building blocks of our material and intellectual reality, tracing their expressions and resonances. The latest work by SoCorpo, the edgy yet rooted collaborative duo project of Sabrina Lastman and Sasha Boganowitsch, springs from this same deep place of engagement and experimentation.

SoCorpo’s pieces emerge gradually from improvisation, from shared explorations of voice, instruments, and electronics. Layered like the elements themselves to create something complex and substantial out of the simplest moments, the diverse pieces on Inelement (2013) unfold, wordless ballads and invented folk music for an uncharted world. The artists then conjure this world on stage (next New York shows: June 14 at the Brecht Forum and July 13, 2013 at Spectrum), often adding visual and movement elements to their live performances.

Approaching their creative work from very different backgrounds, the two artists of SoCorpo seamlessly find an unexpected meeting point, engaging a broad range of influences and techniques. As they do, they transport listeners to places that feel eerily timeless, curiously evocative. Lastman hails from Uruguay--from Polish-Romanian family—spent years studying music in Israel, and has made a name for herself bridging Afro-Latin roots music and jazz as a vocalist, composer/arranger, and bandleader. Bogdanowitsch creates interdisciplinary pieces drawing on a full array of world influences, from West Africa to Asia, when not composing film scores or incidental music for television or contemporary dance ensembles. He has worked with composers like Lou Harrison and Meredith Monk.

“We have different backgrounds, studied different traditions, but we aren’t creating something that sounds like a specific style or region,” reflects Bogdanowitsch. “Our grounding in different traditions informs the music but it isn’t a literal reference. We’re trying to create something original, but with influences from everywhere.”

“When we create, it can take a long time,” comments Lastman. “You’re working on music and movement and finding the smoothness and flow of the piece.” It is something the duo do naturally, assembling disparate elements into stirring wholes.

{full story below}

"Sasha and Sabrina played so exquisitely off of each other that they sounded at times like one voice, and have a superb use of both harmony and oral shapes."
- Chris McGovern, Sequenza 21

Lastman and Bogdanowitsch first met at a workshop led by Meredith Monk at the Weill Institute/Carnegie Hall. Yet it wasn’t until a year later that the two artists met and began trying their hand at improvisation together. Forming something out of nothing, they began to find spontaneous ways to join their voices.

These sessions of exploration launched a collaborative project that allowed both artists to inhabit new roles and find new territory, recording the album On Becoming (2009). With distinctive and developed voices and presences of their own—as audible in their solo compositions on the new album Inelement, “Kaleidophonia” (Bogdanowitsch) and “Borealis” (Lastman)—they found fresh inspiration in the open-ended dialogue sparked in their free-form sessions together. Instead of leading a band or composing something set, they both had freedom to stumble across magic moments.

Their engagement with the elements that eventually led to Inelement and their current live performance came from just such a moment, when Bogdanowitsch and Lastman gathered around the bowed psaltery Bogdanowitsch had in his studio. Its earthy yet bright sound became a frequent companion to Bogdanowitsch and Lastman’s sometimes harmonizing, sometimes hocketting lines. The instrument, descended from European medieval predecessors, was re-invented in the 20th century and became a mainstay of American roots music.

The psaltery inspired the duo to play with other instrumentation, gradually expanding the palette that supports their interlocking voices. “As soon as we started finding that the psaltery was speaking to us, with our voices, we looked for instruments in the same family,” explains Bogdanowitsch.” The autoharp worked well, for example, but we wanted to expand the vocabulary sonically. And since those instruments can lack bass and mid range, we brought in processing and electronics, as well as the Array electro-acoustic mbira,” a modified and electronically enhanced contemporary take on the West African thumb piano, that provides the striking rumble and bass texture for pieces like “On the Root.”

As SoCorpo developed pieces, recording improvisations and slowly working them into more finished compositions, the artists sensed a thread running through their work: the elements. Conceptually broad yet utterly tangible, the idea led Lastman and Bogdanowitsch to craft an entire set of element-related pieces. “We worked on the feeling and sensation,” notes Lastman, recalling the process, “what we really thought about each element, to bring it into the music. The sense or feeling, the atmosphere for each element, was very important. We threw out some adjectives, as we worked and discussed how this would fit here and that would fit there.”

With the elemental qualities in mind, the duo shaped their improvised ideas, via composition, further vocal work, and electronic or in-studio effects and processing. They evoke air’s space with the eerie, floating, psaltery-driven “Immensity,” and fan breathy, spare sparks to fire’s swelling, rippling intensity on “Luminar.”

There are no texts, only the sound of the voice, to convey these images and experiences. In finding the right timbre and vocal quality, SoCorpo let their intuition guide them. “It’s a very intuitive process,” Bogdanowitsch muses. “We’re finding sounds and colors, but we don’t decide beforehand that we’re looking for a certain quality and thus use a particular vocal shape. The outline and palette come together.” These shapes can be marvelously expressive, as “Always Changing,” a seeming ballad without words, proves. The interweaving duet that suggests Lastman’s Latin roots, while showcasing SoCorpo’s tight-knit sonic affinity.

“For this project, we longed to use the voice as an instrument and have it tell stories, but for each specific listener,” Bogdanowitsch says. “The listener creates what the piece is about.”