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weiss, ruth: we are sparks in the universe to our own fire

ruth weiss, she prefers her name written with lower case letters, is a name unfamiliar to me. She was a German born American poet and an integral part of the American beat poet community and was uniquely identified by her aqua green hair, a tribute to the 1948 anti-war movie The Boy with the Green Hair. Ruth unfortunately passed away in 2020 and leaves us with the stylishly titled we are sparks in the universe to our own fire. weiss’s early years were traumatic having fled Vienna and the Holocaust at only ten years of age, moving to New York City and growing up in Harlem. I was curious as to why she spelled her name without capital letters. It is a statement against law and order, something she knew all too well at a very early age. Although ruth made a name for herself within the poetry community she went relatively unnoticed by the public at large until the 1990s when her poetry started to gain international recognition.

This latest album was recorded live at Union Hall, San Francisco in 2018. weiss recites her poetry over an electronic backdrop created by Rent Romus (alto and soprano saxophones, flutes), Doug Lynner (serge synthesizer), Doug O’Connor (double bass) and Hal Davis (wooden log). The background sounds are drenched in the avant-garde with a mixture of electronic and more organic layers touching on jazzy and world flavoured soundscapes. Something like this will have a very selective audience, those who appreciate spoken word and electronic soundscapes might want to check this out. Ruth certainly has a way with words, very descriptive painting vivid pictures with her poetry, elegantly stated and true to her soul. Although this album isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse, I certainly respect the artist and musicians for all they have accomplished.

An Edgetone Records release.

Track Listing:
Set One
1. 90 (1:10)
2. BYPASS LINZ (8:22)
3. silly city (2:07)
4. 18th DAY (4:48)
5. re: ELECTION �" fact or fiction (0:44)
6. 2018 THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN (1:22)
7. looming above its neighbors (4:48)
9. CHI CHI CHI (1:01)
Set Two
10. 90 (2:56)
11. BYPASS LINZ (9:44)
12. silly city (2:38)
13. 18th DAY (4:54)
14. re: ELECTION --- fact or fiction (0:36)
15. 2018 THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN (1:38)
16. looming above its neighbors (5:34)
18. CHI CHI CHI (1:56)

Added: June 9th 2021
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label @ Bandcamp
Hits: 217
Language: english

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