Fresh from her stunning, album-of-the-year-from-Norman-Records-award-winning collaboration with Colin Stetson (who also guests here), Arcade Fire member Sarah Neufeld puts out her second solo record. The Ridge takes her violin to higher planes of hypnotic, dramatic melodicism. Also features Tim Hecker! On SN Music.
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Here lies the first of two sequels to our record of the fucking year 2015, Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld’s ‘Never Were The Way She Was’. This is gonna be the more traditional of follow-ups, if you take into account that Stetson is following up the record with an affectionate and honouring rework of Gorecki’s “Symphony No. 3”. Neufeld, on the other hand, has continued to temper the droning violin dramas of both her solo and collaborative work, finally transforming her string experiments into an epic poem with ‘The Ridge’.
‘Never Were The Way She Was’ found a fascinating middle-ground between practice exercises and disaster movie score music, caught between a world in which we could envision Stets & Neufeld in the studio and one where where that studio had been split in half across crumbling tectonic plates. ‘The Ridge’ begins by making true on the latter: Neufeld’s razor-wire, staccato string bursts are enough to immediately isolate the listener from any real world schematic, and solitary attention is demanded immediately with those fog-lifting drums, interspersed through the track for a seven-minute epic. The record continues along similar lines, using damning flourishes to cohere each song with the last.
Navigated by grooving rhythm sections, Neufeld lets a violin melody carry on with the steadfastness of previous work on “We’ve Got A Lot”, recalling the unmoveable dramas of the last Esmerine record. Her previous solo work has been fragmented, and rightly so, considering that it served Neufeld to interrogate her instrument until she knew each one of its secrets; this record, though feels like a living, breathing thing, the violin a connection rather than extension. She champions the year’s most gorgeous music yet on “The Glow”, which begins on free-flowing violin plucks before door-slammed percussion brings back the fear. The see-saw strings of “Chase The Bright and Burning” are conjoined with a groaned vocal drone of Neufeld’s that recalls the sluggish earthen manoeuvres of ‘Never Were The Way She Was’, but her record moves through different regions: wherever it’s veering towards, it’s never short of thrilling.
10/10 Manny Aguilar Customer review, 26th February 2016
An ambient dark piece that builds into a beautiful electronic flower with a violin as its stem, haunting and exquisite! Wow, it's fair to say that if there is a "God" that all of the musicians involved with the making of this record will have an automatic ticket to heaven! Can I get an "Amen" somebody! A front runner for record of the year. Beautiful beyond words. This is a record that one plays over and over again, one you listen to when you wake up, on your way to work, when you get home and when you lay your head down to sleep. This record, this music will sustain you, nourish you, this record is awesome!
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