Funerary Call - _Fragments of the Aethyr_
(Crucial Blast, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
Funerary Call was not an immediate win for these ears. _Fragments of the Aethyr_ poses a lot of ambient doodling on the air without apparent structure or direction, and while it's by no means bad or uninteresting, the haunted grumbling and echoey, amorphous accents are hardly inventive for this type of quasi-music. Harlow MacFarlane takes top billing here and is credited with multiple sonic event signifiers (percussion, field recordings, electronics, bone flute, and others), so one assumes these moments will drive the album. Focus on the string instrument performances, though, and _Fragments_ grows instantaneously stronger.

Shawn Hache's guitar provides some good material here, but it's Lashen Orendorff's violin performance that spins at the core of the first two wide open tracks, spanning the record's first half-hour. As a conduit for experimental violin improv, _Fragments_ becomes a whole new experience. The violin emotes, mumbles to itself, raises enigmatic questions without hope of answers, and develops a character arc that is necessary for the enjoyment of most instrumental music. It is the presence of the violin's humanity that lends all the other sounds their power, as they call out in support, denial, or outright harassment. The horns especially add color and texture to the pieces, along with Ross Birdwise's throat singing and unspecified reverbed effects.

Maybe the authors of such floaty drone never intended to provide anything solid for listeners to grab on to; if you need it, though, it's not too difficult to find.


(article published 15/7/2012)

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