Sidsel Endresen and Stian Westerhus recorded Didymoi Dreams back in 2011 live at the Nattjazz Festival in Norway, but have not had an opportunity to release it as a record until now. Endresen's characteristically enigmatic caterwauling hits new peaks of oddity while Westerhus provides her a scarred drone landscape, making for one of the more unique releases of 2013 so far.
Endresen's nonsensical syllabic sentences are bound to turn some people off from this record. As I discovered in 2011 with the equally excellent Ha! featuring Humcrush, Endresen's voice is something to become conditioned to thoroughly before enjoying the music. Sidsel speaks in a clattering, layered spray of emotive bursts and word extracts, as if plucked from larger lyrics. As she continues along in each piece over the course of the album, she grows more adaptive to Westerhus' guitar manipulations, gradually transforming her voice from a percussive instrument to a smooth, horn-like imitation. His input is mostly atmospheric on this recording, where earlier collaborations with Sidsel were more foregrounded, but it does not go unappreciated. Gentle murmurs and bass give way to caustic distortion, accenting Sidsel when her voice grows softer or more staccato.
Strangely enough, Sidsel's voice is not far removed from the fringes of traditional jazz scat singing, but it gets closer to a terrified glossolalia than ever before on Didymoi Dreams, taking baby-talk phonetics and plosives and crushing them into compact strings that resemble sped up interviews in a foreign language. Meanwhile, Stian sees opportunities to match her remarkable physical control with synthesized digital elements, looping harmonics and string plucks in complement. I keep feeling the need to revisit “Barkis Is Willing,” due to its uniqueness; an exercise in suspended animation that is impressively terrifying for its tense displacement of silence.