Alison Cotton


Rocket • 2024

Munich, 1938. Two unassuming clercs are bustling among the guests of the Opera. Ida and Luise Cook arrived from the UK, are collecting autographs, and stay in the same hotels as Goering or Himmler. Nothing in their biographies discloses political awareness. Yet, the sisters were going to save the lives of 29 Jews. They secured safe passage, smuggled refugees’ valuables, and lived with up to 15 people in an one-room apartment. Alison Cotton has dedicated her newest album to these heroes, these »Engelchen« (angelets), as the rescued dubbed the Cook sisters. The cellist and violinist makes use of folky drones. Contrary to genre conventions, the music doesn’t attempt to create an abstract atmosphere. Nor does Cotton seem to be interested in accentuating story beats with a soundtrack. Her music creates scenes. Cotton’s voice hovers over letters, mourns »those we failed« and cracks. Turning into abstract singing. Language fails in the face of inhumanity. »Engelchen« is melancholic. There are no standout tracks, possibly due to the album operating on a high level consistently. It ends in the present via closing track »Engelchen Now«. Cotton met refugees, compares their stories to the ones from 1938. At the moment, EU & UK are openly trying to override rights to asylum. They don’t need a »secret plan«. If Cotton is celebrating moral courage, she’s also mourning promises of state-approved protection. A vital album.