One of the biggest releases to come out of the Twin Cities this week is the debut full-length from Desdamona and Carnage’s duo project Ill Chemistry — but for the moment, it’s only available to fans living in France, thanks to a release from jazz-heavy label Nato.
Though they’ve been performing together and appearing on one another’s solo records for over a decade, Ill Chemistry is the first time Desdamona and Carnage have shared billing on an album. There are familiar tracks here; anyone who has seen the duo perform has likely heard songs like “Phenom-a-Mama” and “Hustle the Struggle,” but they are presented with a crisp clarity and added nuances. Carnage’s beatboxing, especially, takes on a wider range of dynamics and styles on record, cooling down to a simmer on the delicate “Love at First Write” and giving Desdamona the space to shine.
It’s not the first time Desdamona has appeared on a French release. In fact, she and Carnage are part of a long line of Twin Cities musicians fostering relationships with the Paris music scene. The connection between the two river cities was explored most deeply in the early to mid-2000s at the recurring Minnesota sur Seine festival, which brought Parisian jazz musicians to Minneapolis to collaborate with hometown artists like Brother Ali, Stokley Williams, Michael Bland, and Fat Kid Wednesdays. One particular group, Ursus Minor, was founded by members of both communities, and their popular record featured a guest appearance by Desdamona; Ursus Minor saxophonist François Corneloup returns the favor by guesting on Ill Chemistry’s track “Antarctica.”
So the Paris-Minneapolis exchange continues to prosper with Ill Chemistry, who are embarking on a trip to France next week to perform at the Sons d’hiver Festival, and will return in April for a full tour of the country. Those of us back at home, meanwhile, will have to wait a bit longer for a proper release, as Desdamona says she is still figuring out those details. “I would like to do something special, not just a regular release party/show,” she says.
For now, digital copies of the album can be purchased via this site, and the reviews for Ill Chemistry have already started rolling in. Those who speak French can find what appears to be a positive review on Citizen Jazz; if Babel Fish is to be trusted, the review says that Desdamona and Carnage are “rare and in general brilliant.”