Joseph Shabason - Anne




Saxophonist and electronic composer Joseph Shabason’s Anne is an enveloping, lush album that explores the frailty and complexity of degenerative illness.

The album is a calm and peaceful – if not somber and painful – reflection on the Toronto musician’s experiences with his mother Anne through her battle with Parkinson’s disease, although you wouldn’t know about the deeply sad subject matter at first listen.

Anne is melodic and calm, if not light, with periodic moments of discord breaking through – a few single notes of something sharp or out of place – but it always returns to the constant movement that gently pulls the heart and ears through the piece.

Shabason uses a blend of sounds on the album, drawing from the language of ambient music as well as jazz.

The soft layers of synth and their accompanying effects — reverbs, long decays, soft attacks — evoke images of soft, overcast mornings and quiet neighbourhoods, while occasional high-pitched whirring and effect-based sounds slide in and out, leaving hints of the unnatural.

In some songs, samples of interviews with the album’s namesake, Shabason’s mother Anne, come into play. She has strength in her voice, but it’s not always clear what she’s talking about. At one point, it sounds negative, but her voice adds to the calm, bringing the soothing tone of a mother’s voice directly into the music.

Anne is perfomed by a group of 13 musicians, on instruments ranging from an ocarina to a CS-80, and to the more standard saxophone, flute, and trumpet.

A stand-out track on this album is hard to choose, as the whole album acts as a single piece of music. The final track, “Treat it Like a Wine Bar,” stands out as an ending, but also as a strong, clear, intentional statement.

Jen Doerksen