Review: Conatus – Empty Spaces


What is it that binds the instruments on Empty Spaces? Certainly not a common tonality. Delphine Dora’s piano splays like a tenuous constellation of stars, each note like a wry harmonic rebuttal to the one prior, while the contributions of Žils Deless-Vēliņš – forming variously as plucked guitars, hushed voices, tapped cymbals and chimes, throbbing drones –interject like unexpected turns in the weather, both jarring and inevitable. Conatus exude a quiet confidence in the fact that the elements will cohere, and that itself is sufficient to make it so. It’s all about the execution. Patience but never hesitation. Strange contrasts in texture (strained breaths and snare brushes) emerge and recede, yet the duo never pause to acknowledge them. Instead these pieces mimic the idle sway of wind chimes, forming an array of collisions whose rhythm, however erratic, is a mere product of the fluctuations in nature’s whim; melodic only ever by accident, and beautiful because it never tries to be. Dora’s piano seems to be the source of this feeling. Her cascade of notes never stops – only ever thickens, quickens or slows – and Deless-Vēliņš slips effortlessly into this flow of unmediated happening, giving rise to strange drumbeats and vocal mutterings as it feels correct to do so, never attempting to rationalise a process that so clearly circumvents the zone of conscious thought.

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