Review: Cello & Laptop – Transient Accidents

coverWhat is the laptop to the cello? It’s a landscape generator: a vibrant backdrop of birdsong, insects and the occasional whoosh of passing traffic, like a lush field spilling out the back of a village in the summer. The cello navigates the field recordings like a snake carving a path through the reeds, adjusting direction in response to the sway of flora and surges of sunlight, with drones bathing in the brightness of major key or frolicking in glimmer of bow harmonics. It’s also an agent of ego dispersal: a means of making the cello glitch and echo and reverse, teasing the tone into strange shapes like a digital carnival mirror, coaxing the instrument into harmonising with its contorted alternate self. I lose track of the “real” cello in all of this; it slips amidst the overdubs and shape-shifts into slurps of reverse pizzicato, melting into smears of reverb that quietly line the stereo horizon.

Essentially, I lose the cello to a cascade of consequence. Transient Accidents examines the inevitable outward ripple of tiny shifts, expanding moments of reflex into quakes of dramatic transformation. The soundscapes are sensitive things, forever fluctuating in thickness, volume and surface texture. Squeals of dissonance instigate sharp, breath-like intakes of static to the left and right. Postponements of melodic resolution send the surrounding textures into a state of crinkling anxiety, with loops and drones fidgeting in restless suspense. There’s always a great deal happening at once: passing conversations between bowed vibrato and their ruthlessly processed counterparts, chords crushed into low fidelity in real time, the tiny chatter of digital data fracture. Every sound is a direct reaction to another. There are acts of staccato retaliation, harmonic affection or cowardly recoils in volume, forming an eco-system of past imprint and oblivious influence, forever modulating in mood and intention. Nothing lingers – except for the promise of change.