Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Espvall / Jakobsons / Szelag – Improvisations for Strings and Electronics (Arachnidiscs, 2012)

Espvall / Jakobsons / Szelag – Improvisations for Strings and Electronics
Arachnidiscs 2012

This CD release features Philly-based Swede Helena Espvall on cello, who has performed in the folk rock group Espers and has collaborated with Fursaxa as Anahita. The two collaborators with Espvall on this release are Marielle Jakobsons and Agnes Szelag who have a group named Myrmyr from Oakland, California and play violin and cello.

"Black Forest" begins with some sweeping strings that sound like the cello. Really gorgeous free melodies but at a slow pace and in unison. Some subtle electronic work that sounds like something is being played backwards. It all sounds like one string instrument is playing. Haunting, dramatic, emotional stuff. "Fissure" starts off with some down-tempo, a-rhythmic plucking and then the more long-form drones on the strings enter into the mix, joining the occasional plucking. The music is so together, well mixed and balanced, creating the illusion of composition, yet this album is improvised. However, according to the press release, Jakobsons and Szelag did create graphic scores for the album, which I suppose is the furthest any compositional aspect came into play. The dissonant harmonies amongst the strings are very gentle, yet powerful. It feels as if there is a rhythm to the free flowing nature of the droning string work, as harmonies drift in and out. "Arctic Rains" begins beautifully with more droning strings harmoniously weaving within each other. There’s definitely a neo-classical aesthetic in the melodies and modes being executed. "Ice Age" begins with a loud, dissonant, and slightly distorted wall of drone. This wall settles down a bit, making room to give a more individual sense of how each person in the trio is shifting sonically. The last song, Lunar Horizon, features more of the same techniques being used throughout the album: bowed strings harmoniously fading in and out, at times dissonant in a very gentle and subtle way.

CD for purchase: http://arachnidiscs.wordpress.com/

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