Conjure is the second album from Balance, the duo of composer/musicians Michael Malis and Marcus Elliot, two of Detroit’s rising stars from in creative music.
Conjure showcases Balance's contemporary point of view, mixing reverence for their forebears with open ears that allow for all kinds of influences to inform the music. Though the record primarily features the duo, Balance is occasionally joined by poet Chace Morris and drummer Gerald Cleaver, two Detroiters of note in their own right,
The album finds the musicians in a largely meditative, introspective mood. Lyrical melodies and fugue-like passages adorn compositions that reflect an interest in chamber music, but the spirit of improvisation flows through every piece. The often warm and congenial atmosphere is occasionally contrasted with more urgent ideas, like the rumbling piano accompanying Chase’s recitation during the opening title track, or the driving freedom of Cleaver’s contribution on “MRA”.
Conjure is a document of the maturing of the duo’s work. Through the variety of compositions and influences on display, it seems that Balance’s conjuring can manifest the sounds of a disappearing past as well as a vision of the future.
Conjure features liner notes by Detroit poet and playwright Bill Harris and cover art by Addie Langford, The Hanging Gardens Orange Green Green (detail), 2015. Acrylic collage and mixed media on gessoed paper mounted on linen, 55.5h x 70.5w. Courtesy the artist.