Posts Tagged ‘Post-classical’

Bill MacKay & Katinka Kleijn

After already gracing 2019 with a hushed and humble folk opus, Bill MacKay changes tack and delivers a stunner of an instrumental collaboration with Chicago cellist Katinka Kleijn. Equally inviting and engrossing as Fountain Fire, STIR winds down another woolen path, though one fraught with slightly more experimental inclinations. The pair play off each other’s strengths – MacKay’s guitar bristles and flows here, threading a more technical side of his playing that’s come forward in his work with Ryley Walker in the past. Kleijn, for her part, gives the songs a less soft-focus approach than his previous album, adding layers of unease and prickled anguish through her discordant passages and plucked delivery. The record is reportedly inspired by the Hesse novel Steppenwolf, though that seems to be more of a guide than a milemarker as this one winds by. The story isn’t the focus, but the emotions weigh just the same.

The album is heavy with hope and sadness, emotionally bare and ready to get hurt again. MacKay’s playing is inquisitive one moment and heartbroken the next. Kleijn balances his runs as a well-worn foil. They fade into one another as the dominant voice of the pieces so easily that the focus blurs and bends, giving neither a true supporting role. They are a duo in the truest sense, weaving their sounds like sonic textiles, knotted but never tangled. Perhaps this isn’t for the fans who are looking for MacKay to lull them down the river, but for fans of guitar prowess and instrumental acumen, this is a gem to be sure.




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Ben Chatwin

Chatwin’s last album was full of murky textures, noise beds and ambient float that felt like it was deteriorating as the album progressed. His follow-up keeps the textural fortitude but moves into an area of tension between the natural world and processed sound. At the heart of Heat & Entropy is Chatwin’s reliance on strings off all types, from piano to guitar to dulcitone. He set out to only use forms of stringed instruments but began to process the sounds and fold his love of texture into the mix. As a result he’s found a headspace that falls down the line between Hauschka’s prepared piano eminence and Evan Caminiti’s dust cloud psych. There’s a dark glow about the album, murky and fitting of the album’s reliance on seascapes in artwork and video treatments. Its balancing a feeling of weightless float and the crush of 60,000 gallons from the listener to the surface.

The further on the album progresses the further away that last breath feels, but the surroundings grow more foreign and beautiful. Centerpiece, “The Kraken,” finds the breaking point, emerging from a clouded gust on the preceding track and opening up a beacon-steady beat with siren-like vocals ducking and weaving the repetitive phrases. “Euclidiean Plane” is a whalesong trapped in amber and there’s no easy feeling about ending on a note called “Corpseways.” Chatwin has elevated his ambitions, stepping further from the Talvihorros work he’d done previously to create an album that’s both decidedly post-classical in its execution and experimental in its impact. This is a claustrophobic, anxious and ultimately also serene album in its own right; as contradictory as that may be. It feels like knowing the end is coming and having the strength to let go.


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