Montreal-Ottawa musicians and multidisciplinary artists, An Laurence (guitar, voice, etc.) and Kim Farris-Manning (piano, voice, synthesizer, etc.), comprise the Paramorph Collective. “Paramorph” in mineralogy refers to the process of transformation of a mineral through the reorganization of its molecular structure only. Analogously, the collective aims to transform itself and its audience through “rearranging inner feelings or thoughts… seeking new perspectives.” The Collective’s nine-track debut album All we’re made of is borrowed shows the duo in twin roles: music creators and performers of scores by Canadian composers Rodney Sharman and Linda C Smith, and California-based Margot George.
Smith’s remarkable Thought and Desire is an engaging piano solo until 3’45” when the pianist begins singing in her soft soprano. At that moment the piano’s identity suddenly shifts, its role thereafter is to accompany. It’s a delightful perceptual shift for listeners. Four of the tracks are original works by the Collective, evoking an overall peaceful, soft and layered aesthetic space through spoken word, electronics and guitar-supported song. Margot George’s rousing Fruiting Bodies forms the album’s centerpiece. Farris-Manning’s custom-built organ synthesizer’s sustained chords are animated by Laurence’s crashing electric guitar clusters and sustained single tones. This 21-minute commission presents dichotomic extremes: of sound pressure and distortion, sustained keyboard vs plucked strings – counterpointed by shimmering stacked organ chords evoking ecclesiastical regions.
The album notes ask listeners to reflect on the title – All we’re made of is borrowed – and to hold onto “the time we have left as medicine.”