Born in Bucharest, Romania, Elma's credit's include work with Van Dyke Parks and They Might Be Giants as well as performances at the Knitting Factory and other notable NYC venues. Alternately beautiful and challenging, "Elma Mayer" presents two song cycles and three individiual songs that incorporate elements of early 20th century experimental music and modern pop with equal aplomb.
"Elma Mayer" is both studiously literate and gleefully playful. The song cycle "Three Haiku..." for example was initially conceived as an imaginary soundtrack from a monster movie and channeled through an inmate of California desert internment camp. The music contains echoes of 12-tone music and 12-bar blues. The other song cycle, "Bends" draws from a lush music palette: gamelan, Debussy, Robert Wyatt-like keyboard attacks, and musique concrete, to name just a few influences.
The individual songs are no less engaging. "The Green Shade" is a distillation of the subjects of both song cycles and hence serves as a fitting opening to the disc, with masterful chord progressions, ever-soaring vocal harmonies and a wash of musical and lyrical color, it evokes the mood the classic Greaves/Blegvad LP Kew Rhone. The closing track on the other hand, presents a Fred Frith-like Balkan/Indonesian arrangement of a Romanian folk song that might have been stolen off a half-century old recording.
Elma Mayer sports a beautiful package as well, designed by Megan Montague Cash. The cover is from a 1915 painting by Charles Woodbury-Elma's husband Brian Woodbury's great-grandfather. The four-panel booklet also includes complete lyrics and credits. It all adds up to a journey of both a planet and a century of music!
"The uncategorizable songs of this Buchearest-born singer are as engaging as pop, as complex and German lieder, and touch on jazz, 12-tone music , experimentalism, cabaret and a few other things..."
Kyle Gann, The Village Voice
"[Elma Mayer's] music is powerful, even disturbing."
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Green Shade
2. The Tide
10. Three Haiku
12. A Burst
15. The Past
17. At the Bottom
18. Where are those Waves
19. At the Top
21. Twin Lakes
23. The Bridge
24. Thinking Feeling
25. How Good is the Wine of Ghiurghiu