Experimental songwriter Jarboe fuses subversion, devotion, and ritual | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Experimental songwriter Jarboe fuses subversion, devotion, and ritual 

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Singer-songwriter, keyboardist, and composer Jarboe first drew national attention in the mid-80s for her role in Swans, and she remained the only consistent member of the band other than the group’s founder, Michael Gira, through the band’s first breakup in 1997. She later reconciled her differences with Gira long enough to contribute to Swans’ 2012 landmark, The Seer. But to think of her artistry by Swans alone does her a grave injustice; she’s the creator of 13 solo albums and numerous collaborations (including my favorites, a 2003 album with iconic metal band Neurosis, and a 2015 album with Chicago avant-garde cellist Helen Money). Last year’s Artbox is a stunning collection of four CDs, including two containing new material, a live set recorded in 2009, and a deluxe version of her 2007 album My Delicate Beast, along with artwork she’s made throughout the decades (plus, a metal pin!). Of the new pieces, “Space Prose” is a soaring meditational work, and “As Mind Dissolves as Song Begins” is a hackles-raising composition she delivers in her signature occult devotional style—eerie, ululating, otherworldly, yet somehow profoundly kind. Jarboe’s subversive sonic shamanism integrates all of this artistic output into a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The forthcoming The Cut of the Warrior (out December 14 on Translation Loss) is inspired by Chöd, a branch of Tibetan Buddhist practice involving symbolic ritual sacrifice of the body.   v

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