By Keith Prosk
Angharad Davies (violin), Klaus Lang (harmonium), and Anton Lukoszevieze (cello) play freely for one track lasting 53 minutes on unfurling, an enchanting, cyclical soundscape. Davies and Lukoszevieze are long-time collaborators in various new music performance groups, perhaps most famously on the first disc of Wandelweiser und so weiter and in Apartment House. This is the first time either played with Lang, though the harmony here would belie that, especially considering the trio spent just a few minutes discussing broad structural elements before playing.
Those structural elements separate unfurling into three recognizable ~15 minute sections that generally begin with a spacious, harsh, low-volume sound created by extended techniques and grow to a dense, mellifluous, booming music that is more familiar. The early parts of each section contain what I think is pumping but not playing the harmonium to create something that sounds like a glitched recording of someone shifting in a pew, creaking, chirping, squeaking, scraping, and whining from all three instruments, some light sawing that can almost mimic the undulating waves sometimes emitted by the harmonium, some plucked strings. Without too much notice, this gives way to the full warm throb of the organ flanked by see-saw strings, with descending glissandos met with ascending glissandos from the other, alternating, and deep dense woody bowing to more closely match the color of the organ. Or sometimes the strings might sync to create a siren. Or one might bow a melancholy melody. The total sections certainly play with extremes in volume, density, and timbre, while the latter parts of them tweak pulse and pitch to create a mood of serenity out of one that may otherwise be shocking in its contrasts. These are the broad strokes, but each section and their parts are distinct, with each seemingly becoming more emotive, cathartic, or film-soundtrackesque along the way.
Being able to evoke a range of responses in one piece by manipulating the basic components of music like volume, timbre, and density demonstrates a special mastery at work here. And, I think it’s hard not to enjoy the rich sound of organ and these strings.
unfurling is available digitally and on CD.