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Sarah Neufeld is a Montreal violinist best known for being a member of the Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre. Here she’s going it alone, travelling to Berlin to record a collection of solo violin pieces with the esteemed Nils Frahm twiddling the knobs (is he the busiest man on the world? I swear that boy manages to get his name onto roughly 50% of the records that come through this office). The press release informs me this record was recorded in several different places for their site-specific acoustics, “including an abandoned geodesic dome, an underground parking garage, and the legendary Studio P4 orchestral recording hall at the broadcast complex of the former GDR”! That’s pretty cool I think - with locations like that it’d be neat if they’d filmed the recording process for an accompanying DVD. They haven't, though.
Anyway, what does it sound like? Well, it’s rooted in minimal composition and as you would predict, it’s full of violin. One track ‘Breathing Black Ground’ has an underlying low rumble alongside gracefully bowed chords (presumably recorded in a train station) and later a bassy drone whose source I’m not sure about, much of the material is hypnotically repetitive like a violinist’s take on Colin Stetson’s hypnotic saxophone drones, and occasionally she accompanies herself with a solitary bass drum thump to inject a little more power. In the middle of the album ‘They Live On’ keeps me guessing by adopting a pizzicato approach and introducing some cooing vocals into the mix. This is a beautiful record, recommended for people who like Colin Stetson’s style but struggle with the unrelenting honk of his saxophone.
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