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Her Dark Materials,
This review is from: Without Sinking (Audio CD)
Icelandic cellist Hildur Gudnadottir's new album
'Without Sinking' is a stark and single-minded affair.
Like her countryman Johann Johannsson she constructs
ambient sonic landscapes of quiet meditative intensity.
It is difficult to separate images of her wild, dark
and wonderful homeland from the soundworlds she creates.
There is a slow moving, almost glacial quality to these
ten compositions. We are carried along despite ourselves
(willingly) by our curiosity and the desire to understand
more about the strange journey on which we have embarked.
The titles of the compositions display a gnomic economy;
little cryptic signposts to aid direction and intention.
'Elevation', 'Overcast', 'Ascent', 'Whiten', 'Unveiled'.
Ms Gudnadottir's sustained vision is both austere and
rapturous in equal measure. Sometimes the music washes
over and around us like a warm wave ('Into Warmer Air');
in other moments we are challenged by the almost suffocating
tension created by shifting layers of near-discordant sound
('Elevation'). We cannot help but be involved in the adventure.
Although the cello generates much of the sound which we hear,
other instruments appear occasionally to add to the enchantment.
The haunting integrity of the zither and woodwind arrangement
on 'Aether' is occasionally undermined by the cello's brooding
stygian intrusions with overwhelmingly unsettling impact.
The errie push-pull of the thematic material on 'Whiten'
feels like ice creeping insiduously through our bones.
It is a stunning piece and alone worth the price of the album.
'Without Sinking' may not be not the easiest of listens
but is, none-the-less a remarkably rewarding one.