Review: Laura Cannell – Simultaneous Flight Movement

sfm-albumcoverThere are numerous beautiful collisions on Simultaneous Flight Movement. The most apparent is Laura Cannell’s instruments (fiddle and recorder) splashing against the walls of Suffolk’s Southwold Lighthouse, creating a reverb that rinses the entirety of the cylindrical structure and carries a very tactile impression of the cold brick surface that surrounds her. And then there’s the impact between the liberal energy of improvisation and the microphone that freezes her gestures in time, solidifying one strand of possibility from a fluid infinity of many. Finally, there’s the interaction between past-tense stillness – the contented, unchanging shapes of musical already committed to history – and the impulses that drags them away from the stave. Cannell’s process involves taking certain phrases and harmonies from Early and Medieval music and then running with them in real time, twisting and knotting particular motifs into new forms, spiralling away from the original score like a monarchical heir building a future inflected with the imprint of ancestral past.

She approaches the fiddle with a bird-like sense of momentum, using thrusts of forte to send her gliding into the next string of harmonies, effortlessly riding the updrafts of time. Songs like “The Sudwulf” enact a tense tango between a root drone and a harmony that swoops up into elegant minor thirds and then plummets to frictional dissonances, like someone constantly losing balance and then over-compensating during the recovery. The following piece “Interrelation Of Diverse Emotions” sets two recorders into playful duet (performed using a double-recorder technique), in which the two instruments take turns in pirouetting into the sky as the others holds steady beneath like a safety blanket. I can hear how she lingers on particular phrases and rhythms, repeating them as if to understand them better (or perhaps just to enjoy them a second time), before using them as vaulting platforms for the next passage of music. While I know that the versions of these songs on Simultaneous Flight Movement will never change, the energy never ceases to feel fresh. Each time I hear Cannell pivot suddenly into a new flurry of notes – even if I’ve heard it countless times before – I can’t help but hear it as an active, present-tense decision to do so.