Review: Michael Vincent Waller – The South Shore

Michael Vincent Waller - The South ShoreWhen dropped, feathers never plummet. They sway and lift again, dusting the descent with little moments of fleeting hope, bringing a certain grace and beauty to the act of submission. I think of this dropped feather as I listen to the solo violin piece, “Il Tenuto Mento Alto”. The music is always falling, forever weeping – the violin swoops gently as it nears the ground, turning melancholy and weakness into something prosaic, forever postponing contact with the ground (silence) via tiny revitalisations. There is contradiction and misery throughout this two-disc set. The music is sad, ponderous. Haunted by regret, gutted by loss. Yet Waller weaves these emotions into gorgeous arcs, propelling the instruments (woodwind, brass, strings, piano) through loops and fluid chicanes with the soft propulsion of serene acceptance. If sadness has to permeate the palette of happiness, may it not be a blemish on vibrancy, but an agent in the creation of beautiful faded hues.

Each piece has a very poetic rhythmic flow, often resembling the effortless continuum of human speech. Imaginary phonemes lap gently at the heels of the one in front, while melodies pause gently as if struck by an interruptive, desolating thought. The instruments are supportive of eachother too; as the viola tumbles limply during “La Riva Sud”, the piano shifts in order to continually catch it. When one violin trails off mid-flow, another dives in and resumes the thread of happening. All of these interactions are staged starkly against silence (or more accurately, the reverb of modest spaces), meaning that I hear them in utmost clarity. Not only that, but I hear wooden bodies quivering with bow vibration, like the secret shudders of lovers in ecstasy or the restrained convulsions of sadness – intimacy and contemplation within a thin slither of limelight, twirling like music box ballerinas sharing a solitary pivot.