Review: Mia Zabelka – Cellular Resonance

There is no gradual assembly. No slow gathering of tones, no slow deepening of harmonic sediment. Instead, pressing play on Cellular Resonance is like stumbling upon an ancient tree in the middle of a forest, standing before a structure that has endured years of growth and self-nurturing before I arrived. A violin drone fades in, and it is already rich and well-worn; muffled as it wears down the tape that carries it, with ridges of bow friction running along the surface. Distorted harmonics thrash over the top in some sort of sleep-seizure – again, rife with an energy that, despite the immediacy with which it hits me, is rooted in a life-force that predates me. It’s remarkable. Each performance begins in mid-flow, as if these tapestries of resonance were carefully conceived in thought – cast across an imagination as vivid as corporeal life itself – long before their actualisation as physical energy. Zabelka presses notes together until they microtonally repel, buzzing like a bed of hornets, sprouting hidden harmonics as the vibrations collide.

Yet Cellular Resonance is also urgent. Vital. I’m throttled by those low frequencies, all of which lose their spatiality to the churn of cavernous acoustics, sometimes crumbling as the microphone membrane rips apart. She hacks at the upper frequencies, bowing back and forth and dragging white noise across the air like a serrated blade, losing tonal detail to the raw contact of hair and string. In the case of that closing track, the results are cyclonic. These are no longer instruments, but gusts and quakes, so visceral in impact that sound sources perish into irrelevance. And yet that profound depth is always there, orchestrating those seemingly haphazard collisions, turning each rabid rasp of static into a sculpture of beautiful angles and deftly pinched edges. Like a storm, the sudden drama of the event is merely the fleeting final consequence of a precise, long-nurtured orchestration of elements.