CONSTELLATION October 20th 2017
Described as a post-classical chamber ensemble, this is a long-form exploration of what it means to create feeling with sound. An impeccable lineage presents lead cello lines from Rebecca Foon, former Silver Mt. Zion member, and Bruce Cawdron, from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That’s the royalty of atmospheric journeying married together and making something new as a five-piece. Mostly quieter, mostly more distinct solo voices, this is a small group and the feeling is intimate.
Switching between English, French and Spanish titles, the hetrogenous make-up of the band is apparent. Recognisable classical tropes are present alongside a chamber presentation of post-rock soundscapes – the Chopin-ish melodies, the repetitive patterns of Glass, the wooden mallet sounds of Reich – yet clearly from a world where Godspeed! live. There is real compositional strength here and, whilst atmosphere is always significant, the pieces have content that sticks with you and leaves definite traces in the mind.
An occasional switch to plaintive reedier voices or step up to larger, beatier, tones add variety and you’ll flicker a smile of recognition as some of the wooden percussion rises to a fusion of post-rock and new-age. Folk is another launching point here, as is nu-folk; except this is all acoustic, however glimmering the textures and flickering the sounds. Occasionally I am minded of ancient Turkish music when I hear the high wavering viol lines.
Many minor chord progressions create depth but there are soul-lifting rises too, some harking back to compositions like Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn. Strings are used sparingly for texture, while horns add intensity when needed – particularly towards the end where temperatures and volumes rise.
All too soon, a flurry of rockier moments left only recently behind, the set is over, turned back on and played again.