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Roxana Amed: Becoming Human



Roxana Amed - Becoming Human
Argentinian Vocalist Roxana Amed

This magnificent recording, Becoming Human by Roxana Amed the hypnotic contralto comes not exceedingly long after three previous recordings. The last of those was Los Trabajos y Las Noches, a benchmark recording in which she interpreted the bitter, surrealist works of the legendary poet Alejandra Pizarnik, the stunning music for which was composed by Frank Carlberg. Miss Pizarnik has always had a profound effect on Miss Amed. For in the poetics of the two artists’ work there are some parallels.

For one, the sting of bitterness hovers dangerously like a resident spirit in the humanity of both artists. There follows an acute sense of mortality in both artists – Miss Pizarnik succumbed to the lure of suicide; Miss Amed is not consumed by fatality, but feeds on it to enrich her burgeoning creativity, often dwelling in the realm of surrealism.

Roxana Amed: Becoming Human [album cover]
Roxana Amed: Becoming Human [album cover]

But clearly Miss Amed’s artistry is of a singular nature. She has displayed it on her previous recordings to stunning effect. On the recording Ontology [Sony Music Latin 2021], Miss Amed lured you into her world; one in which she examined arrival and departure, hope and despair, sadness, and joy by pouring pieces of each emotion into the depths of her life.

She followed this up a year later with Unánime [Sony Music Latin], entering deeper – it would seem – into the complex, secret inner world of her heart.

Miss Amed’s opening song breaks the deafening silence before the CD begins, with the grim present of A Prayer, which – even if it were a plea to the heavens above – fills you with a sense of an expansive all-encompassing darkness a là Schubertian Winterreise.

Two items – Pequeña Voz and Un Destello – rendered in smoky vocalise, set the tone for some high-velocity music, though not before the sun and stars seem to explode, turning the sky into bits of a shattered dream.

This is where Miss Amed and Miss Pizarnik’s poetics run parallel in the world of surrealism, as, for instance, in Miss Amed’s world we encounter this arresting image when horses bleed, “…their blood like rubies in the night…” [Those Horses Running in the Mist].

Later, on Climbing Up My Spine, we feel the near chill of death as Miss Amed is “Breathing fast under [my] skin/Climbing through [my] spine/Burning my throat/My voice singing wild to the moon/and the stars/and no fear in my heart/I am ready to die/Just like a wolf jumps to the darkness so wild.”

It is in her eloquent narratives that Miss Amed conveys the heartache of a sort of stark resignation to the dark predestination of humanity. She not only perceives this with clear-eyed unambiguity but renders it in the powerful images of her poetry, made memorable by the taut arrangements [including by pianist Martin Bejerano, trombonist Kendall Moore and reeds and winds meister Mark Small] of this music.

Becoming Human, she seems to say, is all about living through both the beauty and the [ultimate] fatality of the process. On this recording – as before – Roxana Amed lives to tell the tale.

Deo gratis…

YouTube Audio – Roxana Amed – Becoming Human: Wild

Music – 1: A Prayer; 2: Pequeña Voz; 3: Un Destello; 4: Our Days of Summer; 5: Those Horses Running in the Mist; 6: Climbing Up My Spine; 7: Wild; 8: Then We Built a Home; 9: In This Lonely Room; 10: Una Plegaria; 11: Epílogio.

Musicians – Roxana Amed: compositions and vocals; Martin Bejerano: piano, synthesizers [5, 7] and arrangements [6, 7]; Mark Small: tenor saxophone [1, 4, 5, 8, 11], soprano saxophone [3, 7] flute [6], clarinet [2, 4, 10], bass clarinet [4, 9, and arrangements [3 – 5, 11]; Kendall Moore: trombone [1, 4, 9], and arrangements [1, 9, 11]; Edward Perez: contrabass; Ludwig Afonso: drums.

Released – 2024
Label – Sony Music Latin [19658899472]
Runtime – 37:09

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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