Review: Aquarelle – Leave Corners

Immediately, Aquarelle wields a very distinctive compositional technique. He fills space and then vacates it. This creates a very different kind of quiet; one that still bears the imprint of its former occupier, quivering with the residue of sounds recently departed. Just how harsh lights leave glowing silhouettes in my field of vision for a short while after, this silence bears the ever-fading memory of those cello harmonies and foaming distorted drones, clinging to the air like electricity, tracing the shapes of stirred oceans and complicated cradles of plucked and strummed guitars. Of course, the name “Aquarelle” tugs my mind helplessly toward thoughts of the water, but Leave Corners is truly tidal in its dynamic narrative. In, out, in, out. And thus, every “out” is not just an emptiness, but an inversion of happening – truly an absence, bristling with the frequencies that no longer ring through it.

These pieces are a ballet of filling up and draining away. “Cut Stone” rises to a boil of distortion and rasping overtones – with strings swimming in harmonic shoals beneath – before reducing to wisps of interference and crumpling microphone membranes, showcasing only those sounds that come to claim moments of coastal quiet (the strong wind, the gentle roll of the ocean). The opening of “Brass Logic” teases at a Steve Reich-style intersection of rhythm and harmony, with bells in stereo dialogue and strings raised upon platforms of cymbal wash. Distortion spurts upward and threatens to consume the entire frame, only to fade gradually out of the picture. Suddenly I’m left with crisp, minimal instrument interplay – cello, bells, cymbals, drones – each shape vivid against the newfound quiet, the edges crisper for being previously so obscured, the tranquility rocked by the din from whence it came, and the din to which it may inevitably return. Leave Corners is an album that floods the plain of time. Into every moment, Aquarelle places the kernels of history and becoming. The spectre of the turbulent past. The anxious speculations about the future.