Ruth Goller: Skyllumina

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Emanuele Maniscalco (d)
Bex Burch (sanza, ilimba)
Ruth Goller (b, el b, v)
Mark Sanders
Max Andrzejewski (d)
Will Glaser (gongs)
Sebastian Rochford (d)
Tom Skinner (d, elec)
Jim Hart (vb, d)
Frank Rosaly (d)


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Rec. 2023

Italian-born bassist, vocalist and musical adventurer Ruth Goller prompted double takes with her deeply intimate, often unsettling 2021 debut Skylla, a work named after the six-headed monster of Greek mythology and featuring a series of improvised works, each comprising overdubbed soprano vocals, each with a completely fresh tuning embellished from bass-harmonics beneath.

Goller's penchant for experimentation and collaboration might have its roots in the DIY punk scene she inhabited as a teenager but it is also unmistakably, liberatingly, jazz; this marvellously sucker-punching recording, just 44 minutes long, finds the London-based Goller - formerly a mainstay of outfits from Acoustic Ladyland and Melt Yourself Down to Bex Burch's glorious Vula Viel - augmenting every piece with a different, similarly inventive drummer.

Emotions are again at a premium: Goller has been on an extreme inner journey from grief-struck perfect storm to hope-lit self-discovery, and the soul-baring aesthetic is maintained on tracks from 'Below My Skin' (a spectral, windswept diorama of collaged sound, with Tom Skinner on electronics and drums) and 'She Was My Own She Was My Skin' (a hyperfocused wash of ethereal female vocals made more haunting by the presence of Burch on pinging thumb piano) and the closer 'I Have For You - Simple Truth', its Phoenix-from-the-ashes vibe stoked by the fragile, stuttering percussion of Frank Rosaly.

Skyllumina is an album by an artist with a gift and a vision, and doesn't reward repeated listening - it deserves it.

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