Hristo Vitchev Quartet: Familiar Fields (2013)
In an age where there is a constant demand for instant gratification, it takes courage to let musical material develop at a slow pace in order to realize an artistic vision. Nevertheless, this is what Bulgarian-born guitarist Hristo Vitchev has done on his album, Familiar Fields, whose compositions were written in the space between Vitchev's second and third album: The Secrets of an Angel (2009) and The Perperikon Suite (2011).
In the accompanying liner notes, Vitchev writes about the process of finding the right time to record the compositions: "This collection of pieces always felt to me as if they were constantly searching for their own voice, their own identity, and their own place in this multidimensional sonic universe and therefore I decided to give them the deserved time needed to find such way."
There's no doubt that the right moment has arrived. In the company of an empathic quartet, including longtime cohort, pianist Weber Iago, Vitchev has found the right people to release the full potential of his music.
On a tune like "Wounded by a Poisoned Arrow," Iago's piano flows like water from a deep blue well and his intuitive sense of form is ideal to enhance the strong melodic motifs of Vitchev's compositions.
Vitchev himself is perfectly in sync with the players, as he responds to their ideas, and creates the ideal space for the realization of a chamber quartet where all parts are considered equal. Together they travel on a romantic sound journey where the ebbs and flows of the music are allowed to develop organically into epic poems that span the elegiac mood of the ballad "They Are No More" and the sophisticated groove of "The Fifth Season."
It might be that Vitchev and his quartet are stepping into familiar territory, encompassing sounds from the past that have come back to haunt them, but at the same time, the music feels entirely fresh, as if it was meant to be released just in this moment.
Perhaps this is what characterizes art in its truest essence: something that is old, but always new. Romantic remembrance as the key to a room where emotions become stories that are told when the right moment arrives and the barren fields start to blossom.
Track Listing: Ballad For The Fallen; Wounded By A Poison Arrow; The Prophet's Daughter; They Are No More; Familiar Fields Part 1; Familiar Fields Part 2; The Mask Of Agememnon; The Fifth Season; Willing To Live.
Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Dan Robbins: bass; Weber Iago: piano; Mike Shannon: drums.
Record Label: First Orbit Sounds