LAURIE ANDERSON & KRONOS QUARTET
BOTTOM LINE Revealing her thoughts and experiences in surviving superstorm Sandy.
Nearly everyone who lived through superstorm Sandy in 2012 has a story to tell about it. Laurie Anderson enlisted the Kronos Quartet and set hers to music for “Landfall” (Nonesuch).
“Landfall” started as a performance piece, but it holds together as an album as well, though visuals probably enhanced the more expository pieces like “CNN Predicts a Monster Storm” and “The Electricity Goes Out and We Move to a Hotel.”
The 70-minute piece runs from the start of the storm, which Anderson weathered in lower Manhattan with her husband, the late Lou Reed, through its aftermath, with the foreboding sounds of hovering helicopters marking the transition.
The centerpiece of “Landfall” is the haunting 10-minute epic “Nothing Left But Their Names,” where Anderson discusses — in a distorted, lower-pitched voice — a variety of now-extinct species, leaving unasked the question of what humans’ impact will be.
But there are lighter moments, finding humor in “We Learn to Speak Yet Another Language,” where she talks of being “in a Dutch karaoke bar trying to sing a song in Korea,” while making the point that the world is now very small.
She nimbly moves from the universal implications to the personal in “Everything Is Floating,” as she talks about going to her flooded basement and finding her keyboards and countless keepsakes ruined. (Her book “All The Things I Lost in the Flood: Essays on Pictures, Language, and Code” was released last week.) “All the things I’d carefully saved all my life becoming nothing . . . but junk,” she declares, as the music turns from blustery to serene and mournful. “I thought how beautiful, how magical and how . . . catastrophic.”
Recognizing that duality is what makes “Landfall” so special. She finds beauty in even the darkest of disasters, a discovery that can be applied to everyday struggles as well as this very specific one.