Swedish siblings Eva and Lindal went into a studio in the summer of 2019 armed only with some track titles, and some discussion of their “love and ambivalence” towards the tradition of Western art music. Beyond that, everything was improvised from the two violin players (with Eva also switching to viola).
The outcome is an hour-long package that wanders across a broad spectrum of what’s possible from a violin- often adopting a fairly traditional and melodic, albeit meandering, old school familiarity, while at other times stretching the instrument somewhat, using it percussively and impulsively to broaden the sonic palette.
It is predominantly somewhat purist though, with an absence of post-production trickery or live effects to really extend that abstraction, and what you hear remains two people, in a room, playing off one another and conversing, in length and detail, using their violins rather than their voices.
There’s an interesting pull between melody and discord at times. In the title track, it feels like one instrument is charting out a fairly simple romantic melody that would befit a Jane Austen-ish television period drama- but the other violin is being cheeky, playing against it, almost laughing at it with its spontaneous and pitch-jumping short expressions. The tension rides high but steady in longest piece “Olivier”.
By contrast, in “Hjul” there’s an emptiness and scratchiness that’s engagingly barren and quite bold- possibly evoking the teethwork of the beaver of the album’s title (assuming I’ve not misunderstood it). This piece marks the beginning of the album’s final third which is notably more sparse than what precedes it- not featureless, and still with the occasional flurry, but eventually leading to the wooden creaking of final piece “Knust” that is oddly evocative of the sound of an abandoned pirate ship creaking on the sea.
It’s a curious and very expressive work. Often I find myself saying that works show performers to be working in synergy, ‘on the same page’ is a phrase I’ve used a few times. And while that’s true for large parts here as well, it’s actually the counter-play and melodic contradictions in the first pieces that yield the most interesting results. A strong bit of post-classical experimentation.