Review: Rhonda Taylor – AFTERPARTY


Recorded during the first days of the “stay at home” order in New Mexico last year, this collection of improvisations for saxophone and voice captures that now-familiar transition state: after the categorical loss of normality, prior to fully comprehending the new mode of existence. This feels like Taylor’s attempt to articulate an experience in which absence is the only certainty, clustering together splutters, overdriven moans and utterances in vague forms, buzzing with an intensity that splays in all directions in lieu of knowing precisely which way to pull. She remarks on the variety of these pieces being the result of a shortened attention span, which explains why the restless mutterings of “exit interview” shunt straight into the 10 minutes of distorted screams on “last call”, in turn vanishing into the fantastically frenetic laser pulses of “trans mission”. But AFTERPARTY also expresses the collapsing of inner and outer worlds – how the distinction between “thoughts” and “words” becomes futile in solitude, with internal dialogues spilling out of the mouth and etching their outlines into Taylor’s scratchy saxophone inhalations, or idle melodies appearing with the sole function of staving off the eerie quiet. Masterfully, she drenches each gesture in FX – distortion, echo, phaser – yet never shakes the raw reality of being stuck at home. Like vivid dreams or the outstretches of the imagination, these FX see Taylor manipulating her tone in order to escape the wearying familiarity of one’s own company in lockdown, only for these attempts to smack like dizzy flies against the closed windows.