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Charlotte Hug: Slipway to Galaxies (2011)

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Charlotte Hug: Slipway to Galaxies How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

There has always been something special about a performance by Charlotte Hug. Her revolutionary playing celebrated in the unique "soft-bowing" technique has turned the shrill glissandi of the viola into hues of deep, indulgent warmth. As her passion for the human interaction with her instrument developed, she began to meld her unique vocalistics, as well as her "Son-Icons" into her artful reinvention of the viola and her music. Although nothing about her work may ever be described as typical, Slipway to Galaxies is a fine example of the fine and heady mixture of Hug's musical odysseys. Here, she wakes the spirits of worlds unknown and lures them with her playing, vocalizing and dancing into the flesh, where they begin to rock and sway in timeless unison. Ever the bewitching artiste, Hug conjures up a sonic storm that seems to unite her with realms unknown, as viola and voice, music and dance make their majestic entrance into the body and soul of anyone who will listen.

In track after track, Hug explores the purity of sound. In vocalizing her music, she becomes, at various times, a banshee, and more often than not—and in her devastatingly beautiful Celtic incarnation—a "bean caoineadh," that crying woman keening her way to a veritable celebration of life over death. This is the mystical beauty of "Holy Ground," where Hug eulogizes the dance of life over death. In the ecstasy of "Exhilaration," the incredible lightness of ascent from limbo into an azure state is almost palpable. The uncanny similarities between ancient Irish beliefs and ancient Indian ones is explored in "Atman," a chart in which Hug follows the sound of the soul as it soars free of corporeality.

Hug has been known to also play at the edge of various dimensions of sound. She has performed under the enormous Rhône glacier, in a bombed out bunker, beneath the sea and in other places where unique new aspects to sound have been bounced off her viola. These have been captured in her "Son-Icons," which are more than merely painterly aspects of sound. In fact, she likens them more to sonic seismographs than paintings. On this album, Hug also explores the relationship of her viola and vocal art in relation to these "Son-Icons," as she puts her whole corporal self against her instrument and the resulting concerti ensue. The sonic battles of "Anderwelten," "Buzz & Fly" and "Intersect" set the ears aflame as legions of imaginary dancers sway and swerve to Hug's heady music.

But it is the spectacular music of "Cyclic" where, once again, the primordial cries of life may be heard in Hug's brave adventure and, more especially, in "Slipway to Galaxies," where limbo and the nether world collide with the sound of life everlasting, in which Charlotte Hug reigns supreme. It is here that her world of music awakens the spirits dancing in the flesh.


Track Listing: Anderwelten; Buzz & Fly; Intersect; Holy Ground; Exhilaration; Atman; Cyclic; Slipway to Galaxies.

Personnel: Charlotte Hug: viola, voice.

Record Label: Emanem


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