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Sahara Dust is Lindsay Cooper and Robyn Archer's collaborative score for a music theater production based on the Gulf War, and was recorded in 1992. Her accomplices number five and include vocalist and trumpeter Phil Minton. Scored in five movements, each with a textual element that serves as a meditation for the music, Cooper, who has long scored collaborative projects involving film, television, voices, dances, and theater, has outdone herself this time. The brooding score which slows the vocalist into Archer's words about millions of people coming out of their homes to feel specks of hand interspersed with the raindrops as their televisions sets drone on about a conflict happening somewhere "over there," is comprised of elements of cabaret, jazz, blues, classical and Middle Eastern music. Tonally Cooper goes for a series of colors that walk the line cracking apart all notions of "popular" and "art" song. The story, if it can be called that (meditation is more like it) unfolds at a gradual, unhurried pace with all of the instrumentalists being allowed to solo and add shape and depth to her intricate and somber but deeply beautiful score. There is a harmonic sensibility at work here, which is staggering, as Cooper places the quality of Minton's voice as a central element in her score, and the manner in which she balances the various tonalities from accordions, bassoons, cello, and synthesizers. The result is a stirring, moving political and emotional tour de force that is easy on the ears and taxes the heart to resolve contradictions in the way we perceive the world. No one can ask more of a composer.
Performance CreditsLindsay Cooper Primary Artist,Bassoon,Soprano Saxophone
Phil Minton Trumpet,Vocals
Paul Jayasinha Trumpet,Cello,Woodwind,Wind Synthesizer
Dean Speedwell Brodrick Accordion,Bassoon,Keyboards
Robyn Schulkowsky Percussion,Piccolo
Elvira Plenar Synthesizer,Piano