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Josephine Foster – Spellbinder / Experiment

"Certainly always an enigmatic delicacy, this latest from Josephine Foster throws us further into the sublime. With two tracks that seem to complement and almost respond to each other, this latest from Café Oto’s series is a must listen and an exciting departure into fresh territory for this artist.

On the first track, “Spellbinder”, Josephine takes us on a journey into the cyclical and interpenetrating layers of three humble instruments. Josephine plays them on top of each other, garnering chance encounters and interactions as she improvises in three through-composed layers, each time in partnership with her voice. She describes her instruments as beloved but imperfect, recalling the pump organ as having “a clumpy pump on the right with uneven delivery” and the folk harp as having “its flaws” but also realizing their advantages by embracing and embellishing their lack. This track is an ascent into the spiraling ephemeral state of being, with vocals weaving in and out chanting her setting of “om mani padme hum,” the sacred Buddhist mantra (translated into English as “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus”) with each of the six Sanskrit syllables representing key aspects of the Buddhist teachings. In this piece, a cycle of chance encounters channeled through imperfect containers reaches some kind of noble truth here.

On the second track “Experiment” Josephine truly goes into unchartered territory in this Cole Porter cover. In true homage to Porter’s lyrics, Foster has never presented a more “experimental” palette of synths and vocals and beats.

“Experiment...
Make it your motto day and night.
Experiment...
And it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree
Is never too high to achieve
So take an example from Eve
Experiment… “

On Foster’s synth lines we almost think early Laraaji or Emerald Web but with the addition of Josephine’s voice I think more of the complex stylings of Robert Wyatt ‘s songcrafting. I also can’t help but think of Arthur Russell’s disco music experiments as it climaxes into a nice thick beat at the end created by Foster’s organ that seems to tie all the loose ends together.

Both tracks on this record are cyclical in their own ways and their complementary nature to each other demands repeated listening, creating yet another cycle of the most experimental of earworms yet by Josephine Foster."

-Ka Baird

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All music by Josephine Foster

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Spellbinder
Double trio for tenor recorder, lever harp, and pump organ and 3 voices

Experiment (from Nymph Errant, by Cole Porter)
synth/voice

Recorded, mixed and performed by Josephine Foster

Photo Silvia Camerin

Mastering by Oliver Barrett

Tracklisting:
1 - Spellbinder [15:59]
2 - Experiment [06:07]

Josephine Foster

Coloradoan Josephine Foster’s route is a free, chromatic music, a tuneful montana of mind–an expansive harmonic space dominated by mountains on the horizon. As highwater as the music is, as broad the stylistic palette of it, her music really exists in service of the lyrics.

She has performed for an audience of burros, concerts of Federico Garcia Lorca poems set to music. A music of wandering and a music of roots. An impermanent tradition passed down for generations. Let your loved ones know.