Portland improvisers Dr. Catherine Lee and Matt Hannafin’s self-released LP Five Shapes
Five Shapes lulls the mind with its gentle spaciousness into a personal creative space. It is five improvisations of nameless shapes, making one whole prime number.
In case you forgot, five cannot be divided by any other whole number (hence prime). Recorded live in one take at Hudson Concert Hall in Salem, Oregon, these five shapes cannot be repeated, nor can you easily find repetition (or a divisible portion) within it.
Deep natural reverberations wash over Catherine Lee’s oboe d’amore, giving harmony to Hannafin’s percussive backbone. It’s like he provides a timeline so that she can imagine characters and express them as moods. The arch of each shape can be heard as a story.
The music that happened that day was stripped to the bare essentials — not too conceptual. The songs clock in just between 9-10 minutes, each of them. They are named simply, “Shape 1,” “Shape, 2,” for a total of five.
By removing audience applause, it sounds like a studio album, but the comforting hum of the concert hall reminds you that you’re in a place, versus the sonic vacuum of a proper studio.
I’ve enjoyed my copy of this release for, coincidentally, five months. That’s a good thing. It gives me the benefit of long-term listening. It has become a favorite album at the desk, writing, researching, or really anything that involves analytic thought. While the sound is highly involved and may require active listening, it can also be ignored at any time.