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Solo Voice I – X is the first LP by C Spencer Yeh devoted entirely to the voice. Yeh’s practice has its most obvious precedents in the sound poetry scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s—recalling an outlier group like the Four Horsemen, at their most raw and a-verbal, as much as the circles and canons forged around post-Lettrist France—as well as in figures like Joan La Barbara.
Over the past few years, he has moved from virtuosic, intensely physical performances to more focused studies whose specific attachment to performance situations and even the body has become increasingly tenuous. Maintaining a strict fidelity to the specific properties of his voice, Yeh initially relied only on amplification (largely in order to bring into focus a rich grain of otherwise inaudible phenomena), before gradually introducing various studio techniques to fold the temporality of performance in on itself. Here he has edited out the breaths from recordings made in the studio, letting his vocalizations run together in palpitating continua. The effect is an elision of phrasing as an element of both linguistic and musical convention, and an uncanny protraction of the voice into vast, hypnotic slurs.
Solo Voice I – X resumes the development of techniques and strategies which, taken together, form a kind of composition unto themselves. Deftly sequenced by Yeh, the LP progresses from a series of shorter tracks, each honing in on a particular sound or technique, towards more open-ended territory in which the formal rigor of the first half begins to dissolve, with Yeh’s voice playing off both silence and itself.