Joseph Branciforte & Theo Bleckmann
During the summer of 2016, the experimental electronic composer and jazz engineer Joseph Branciforte, who has produced records by Vijay Iyer and Mary Halvorson, started keeping an online “sound journal” of his brief improvisations for Fender Rhodes or modular synths. Intended for no one in particular, these slowly accumulating tracks caught the refined ear of Theo Bleckmann, a celebrated vocalist who straddles jazz, classical, and cabaret while recording for ECM and performing in Meredith Monk’s vocal ensemble.
Bleckmann and Branciforte had crossed paths once before—in the studio and the control room, respectively, for the recording of Ben Monder’s Hydra—and so the Grammy-nominated singer suggested a collaboration to the algorithmic composer who grew up idolizing him.
The new duo began to develop a style of improvised ambient music made of “beatific drones … and idiosyncratic effects-laden vocalizations,” as DownBeat said, in a series of field tests that culminated in a show with Ryuichi Sakamoto in 2018. The next year, Branciforte founded a new label, Greyfade, to release their debut album, LP1, a slowly turning prism where Bleckmann’s uncanny voice and Branciforte’s subtle processing fuse in spectral unities that “prove hauntingly beautiful while affirming this pair’s gifts for micro-expression,” All About Jazz said. “These glacially open expressions belie their sophistication while delighting in the convergence between the audible and the subliminal.”