Jan 11 2014
An album that has been absolutely mesmerizing me since I first discovered it this last December is El Camino, by Susanne Paul’s Move Quartet. It’s a string quartet that creates the most enchanting chamber music. They seek to bring together elements of classical, jazz, and soundscape. The heaviest influence on the music is the first of those three, but the other two influences peek out at favorable moments.
An album so beautiful at times, it’s stunning.
Your album personnel: Susanne Paul (cello and compositions), Ger∂ur Gunnarsdóttir (violin), Ari Poutiainen (viola), and Carlos Bica (double bass).
“Basics of Birds” typifies many of the album pieces… a motion that sounds erratic from one tick of the clock to the next, but over the course of its progression, reveals a graceful fluidity not apparent at first blush. Sunny harmonies cross overhead from time to time, as hints of a melodic theme trickle up to the surface.
“Panache Bleu” builds up into a lather with some frenetic slashes and groove, then exhales deeply with a lilting wash of harmony in “Choral.”
“Baobab” is a gorgeous display of accentuating melodic beauty by toying with the tempo. A prancing cadence is set against a crosshatch of melodic fragments and harmonic bursts, creating one of the prettiest and most engaging album tracks.
Scattered throughout the album are a variety of brief interludes, improvisatory moments that communicate as conversational asides… interesting small-talk in between the larger topics at hand. They’re also pretty damn fun. “Is it Tango?” slashes and cuts through a tempo inspired by peculiar motions. “Space Insects” twitters with unseen life. “Gunslinger” has a twang and thump and something vaguely resembling a cool stroll carried out in slow-motion.
The album ends with the title-track “El Camino,” a song with the elegance of a waltz, the warmth of a lullaby.
Which, now that it’s been written, it occurs to me that’s the statement I could’ve led with this review. It’s a beautiful recording, of elegance and warmth.
Released on JazzHaus Musik.
Music from the Berlin, Germany scene.
It will be of interest to some of this site’s readers to note that the bass player on this recording, Carlos Bica, has put out a series of albums on the Clean Feed Records label. To anyone remotely familiar with Clean Feed, it won’t be a surprise to learn that those recordings are nothing like El Camino. It’s intriguing to hear Bica in a different setting. Here’s a brief synopsis of one such recording.