I just discovered a wonderful ensemble last night, and I’m gonna write a review about it as I stream their beautiful beautiful beautiful music on their Soundcloud page. If the second half of the album is as outstanding as the first half, I will likely gush about Threads Orchestra‘s album Threads for the entirety of this review.
So, prepare yourself. This is unfiltered.
Your album personnel: Adam Robinson (viola), Julian Gregory (violin), Chris Montague (guitar), Kit Downes (piano), Rus Pearson (bass), Kristoffer Wright (drums), and Semay Wu (cello).
The opening track “Attached” probably has some significance to the composer, but for me, it was symbolic in that from the moment the lush waves of strings washed over the intermittent pounding of drums, followed immediately by the prowling piano notes and drowsy guitar effects, I was hooked on this album. Stuck to it. Attached. The song builds nice and slow, more nu-classical with rock moodiness than actual jazz, though the piano section certainly could argue against that statement. It’s an enchanting opening song, supremely beautiful, but a little fearful in that way expansive beauty can be.
Second track “Gene Wilder” doesn’t exactly dial it back on the addictiveness. With the happy patter of plucked strings accompanied by poppish piano trills, it’s the audio version of sugary cereal on a bright and snowy winter morning… a sense of the magical in a world of small but special treats. Then strings start to raise their voice, backed by electric guitar picking and gentle but rapid drumming. And then it sort’ve turns into a bit of a tango and the tempo and volume rises, receding briefly to the starting point before building right back up to the grand finale.
So far, two songs, two sounds. Third track “Titus Salt” adds yet another disparate element to this album.
Two feet in the Americana Jazz perfected by Bill Frisell, “Titus Salt” has strings blissfully swaying between searching guitar notes. Piano breaks through the clearing for an uplifting solo that somehow raises the prettiness factor. But really, it’s the trio of viola, violin, and cello that shines brightest on this tune. Good grief, this is a beautiful tune.
See? I warned you how I’d be. It’s love, I just know it.
Let’s talk about one more tune, then call it a day.
The sixth track “Oliver Reed,” begins with some avant-garde strings that would make the duo of Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone proud. They seamlessly transition to a tango sound, which really doesn’t seem like it should work except that I just heard it happen (and so can you embedded just above). As a composition, it’s a whirlwind with an excellent sense of timing. Strings whip about while piano hops in place, and everything sound like it gonna scatter everywhere, but instead finds a dance partner and saves the chaos for another day.
The album is Self-Produced. It was released in 2011. Music from the UK.
Stream the entire album on their bandcamp page, where you can also purchase the album.
Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artists.
NOTE: I will be writing a proper album review of Threads, to appear either on Bird is the Worm or AllAboutJazz. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The review appears on Bird is the Worm, and is searchable via the “Musicians” drop-down menu on the right-hand side of this screen).
NOTE: Also, I believe there is a 2012 release forthcoming.
*The first of a series of one-draft stream-of-conscious “reviews” of new-to-me albums and/or artists. See the Series Intro post for more information about the First Impression Series.