Dusted Reviews

Paul Dutton - Oralizations

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Paul Dutton

Album: Oralizations

Label: Ambiances Magnetiques

Review date: Sep. 7, 2005

Oralizations is a new collection of free improvisations, structured improvisations, and compositions from Paul Dutton. For decades, Dutton has been one of the central figures in both the international sound poetry community and in free improvisation circles. Like his earlier collection, Mouth Pieces, Oralizations is both a retrospective of Dutton’s work since the 1970s and a good representation of the current state of his art.

It was in the liner notes to Mouth Pieces that Dutton coined the term for his art: “soundsinging.” He said then that he doesn’t like the commonly held distinction between the literary and the musical, and in keeping with this, the content of his work shifts from semantic to abstract in a truckload of ways. Some of the pieces on Oralizations look good on paper, being performance versions of pieces from Dutton’s books Right Hemisphere, Left Ear and Aurealities; others are composed or improvised entirely from non-conventional vocal and oral effects. The pieces are almost all for solo voice (and other non-vocal oral sounds). Whether reading or gurgling, solo Dutton remains compelling, and Oralizations provides a well arranged 70-minute collection of his best work.

Dutton’s poetry consistently reclaims words from their meaning. What you hear first is the materiality and rhythms of speech; meaning comes later. This is true for both the poems where the words remain intact and those in which he dissects words into basic units, tasting and improvising with the phonemes and morphemes. Dutton’s word-based pieces use repetition, variation, and fragmentation to turn speech into song. Outstanding are the immediately pleasurable “Kit Talk,” whose alliteration of voiced consonants and plosives is perfectly arranged to invoke a dynamic drum solo. “For the Letter That Begins Them All, H (for bp)” blends word-based sections and non-semantic vocal effects in a touching, powerful ode to Dutton’s late friend and collaborator, bp Nichol. And the self-reference and wit of Oralizations’ spare closing track, “Reminiscence,” makes for a thoughtful end to the collection.

The wealth of unique vocal effects that Dutton has developed and made his own throughout the years can be heard on a number of collaborative recordings, but to hear them emerge within solo improvisation seems ideal; all of the listener’s attention is directed toward the complexity and sensuality that is emerging from that one experienced mouth. Dutton’s submerged purring is hilarious, his drones are disturbing, and many of his multiphonic effects are utterly unique. On Oralizations, listeners are treated to both live and studio recorded improvisations, and one of the highlights of the album is hearing an astonished crowd lose it during “Sonorality,” the title he gave to an improvisation recorded at the Do What?! Art Festival in Toronto.

Listeners familiar with Dutton’s work will be happy to have these pieces down on a recording with such good sound quality. Virgins cultivating an interest in sound poetry and/or vocal free improv can be assured this recording is a good place to start, as it serves up hefty chunks of both and elucidates the connection between the two practices like few other recordings. Dutton’s bass voice has a gritty quality that no other soundsinger can match and Oralizations is a solid display of the wit, sensuality and aesthetic complexity guiding that big voice.

By Suriku Rineto

Read More

View all articles by Suriku Rineto

Find out more about Ambiances Magnetiques

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.