Fusing together acoustic and electronic in a duo format seems to be quite fashionable at the minute. Only last week I reviewed Divus’ “Divus 2” where saxophone met electronics. Here, it’s Sara Oswald’s cello that is played with, or against, Feldermelder’s electronic landscaping, and they are here to show there is plenty of life in this electronic-acoustic hybridisation yet.
The low yet warm rumbles of “Left Eye Distortions” is a strong example of where this duo is at. The long sustained and hum-like notes of the cello are refracted to different degrees at different times, sometimes taking the lead, sometimes just adding a slight extra layer. Everything is live, and impulsive, but a fairly rich layer of signal processing on the cello sounds gives a more considered feel.
The electronics are derived, at least initially, from algorithms and signal paths rather than human impulses, and this leans them towards abstraction (or, less positively, sometimes shapelessness). The humanity is restored by the cello, which in pieces like “Front Door Gator Encounters” is the main source of rhythm and pattern. The wave sounds in that track, incidentally, twist the profile of the sound in an unexpected direction, making it sound even more unusual- and absolutely nothing like the tone I’d be giving off if I had alligators near my house.
The maths behind it is more prominently on display in “Folding Deltas”, yet strangely this ends up sounding like the most positive piece of the batch, thanks to its steady rising tones.
After four pieces roughly around the seven-minute mark, the album concludes with a much longer self-contained adventure in “Red And Yellow Prisms”, and this piece sounds decidedly more ‘soundtracky’, with its various chapters and changes of tone sounding very much like a deliberate soundtrack to unseen picture. Towards the end it also carries the most horrendous tinnitus-like high squeal noise that made me think either my speakers or my ears were broken, so watch out for that one.
The overall soundscape is so alien and abstract that the whole thing does feel at times more like a musical exercise or experiment than a composition or journey. It’s nicely distinct and complex though, real thinking music that really draws you in.