Under Review

Karoline Leblanc

Velvet Oddities

atrito-afeito; 14/04/2016

Dora Dubber

Québec Great Karoline Leblanc’s Velvet Oddities is a series of 19 brief piano improvisations from her Montréal-based label: atrito-afeito. The LP continues Leblanc’s exploration of sonic freedom and experimentation as she produces inventive and temperate compositions.

Leblanc’s career began as a prominent classical Canadian pianist, playing several world premiers of Canadian composers throughout the ‘90s. But since 1998 Leblanc has been experimenting with traditional free jazz and unrestricted musical expression. She is less known for the result of her stylistic revolution, which is heavily improvised, flighty, protracted, and largely self-produced.

atrito-afeito, releases content made exclusively by Leblanc and Paul J Ferreira Lopes, another Montreal-based artist with a similar interest in innovative musical freedom. The label’s releases are a series of largely improvised collaborations and solo releases. Their group, Total Improvisation Troop (TIT) is self described as a “modular structure for freedom” combining visuals and traditional and contemporary sounds to redefine textual performance with expressive liberty. atrito-afeito is a self-created platform for Leblanc and Lopes to create whatever kind of content interests them, unaffected by typical industry limitations and they have used this opportunity to produce genuinely personal and original music.

Alternating between urgent chords and gentle trills, Leblanc has created a cathartic collection of improvisations in Velvet Oddities. Leblanc’s mastery of pause and suspense on her beautifully paced tracks seduces and soothes the listener. While the tracks range from five minutes to less than one, with most of the songs hovering between two and four, every piece combines dramatic interjections and consistent melodies as Leblanc trips over keys and chords on her own authentic creative odyssey. Leblanc’s position allows her creative and productive freedom and Velvet Oddities is a gratifying addition to her growing repertoire.