Pamela Z – A Secret Code (Neuma, CD/digital)

Pamela Z's releases are always something special, and not only because they are far and few between, but also because the US-American is a singular composer. Released ahead of the reissue of her debut Echolocation from 1988 through Freedom to Spend this autumn, A Secret Code is only her overall third solo release. The aesthetic focus of the album is on the human, i.e. the accomplished singer's own voice, which means that on the level of content it deals with questions about the production of meaning and how sense is being mediated. The eight pieces are often reminiscent of sound poetry, sometimes calling to mind Philip Glass due to their repetitive character. But Z—yes, that's her real and full surname—undermines the supposed conceptual heaviness with a lot of humour and explores anachronisms along the way. In one moment, she mimes a computer voice rattling off numbers aleatorically, and in another reads a letter while typing on a typewriter: »My computer is broken. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write, but as you can see, I'm not very good at this.« That may be true, however Pamela Z has other qualities, which she displays brilliantly and yet modestly on A Secret Code.