Review: The Tongue Is an Eye – Extravios (self-released, Jul 21)

An album’s cover is frequently a reliable indicator of how harrowing of an experience the music contained within will be. This is certainly true for Extravios, the first release by the duo of Christian Moser and Paula Sanchez under the name The Tongue Is an Eye, whose artwork is not overtly disturbing yet barely belies a dark uneasiness (my theory is that the covering of the eyes of a human face, while the mouth remains visible, triggers a response of revulsion consistent with the Uncanny Valley phenomenon). The three improvisations that comprise the album are restless hodgepodges of tensile agitation, percussive clatter, and nocturnal claustrophobia, with both Moser and Sanchez contributing conventional instruments abused with extended techniques (oud and cello, respectively) as well as objects and found ephemera. Sanchez also makes use of abstract vocalization on “Fibra 2,” the longest and most diverse of the three, her stuttering inhales and strangled utterances colliding with equally unpredictable shards of unidentifiable rattle and pained string emissions. The second half of this piece gravitates toward the enrapturing interplay between the oud and cello, the recordings sounding as if they were captured with microphones less than centimeters away from the necks as sliding fingers and atonal attacks snake directly into the eardrums. This could either be a document of the duo’s first meeting or the culmination of many rehearsal sessions; the two musicians have mastered an approach to interaction that somehow sounds both tentative and seasoned. I certainly look forward to hearing more of their wonderfully bizarre and confrontational creations.