Solo flute albums rarely clog up the world's second-hand vinyl bins. More's the pity, for the flute's sounds are timeless. In prehistoric times people played flutes made from bones and mammoth ivorymaking the connection between the air inhaled and exhaled to produce music. Or sounds, for there is, and always has been, a fine line between the two. On her debut solo album, classically trained, Australian flutist Lina Andonovska responds to five contemporary compositions by Irish/Ireland-based composers. The Dublin-based Australian addresses these challenging pieces with the mighty, amplified bass flute, piccolo, alto flute, percussion, and loops.
Drummer Matthew Jacobson collaborates on two tracks. So, technically, not entirely a solo album, but who's going to quibble? Jacobson and Andonovska first converse on Barry O'Halpin's "Hox," where Jacobson's pattering, scraping and rustling combines with the leader's rasping punctuation, and the percussive tap and clack of the bass flute's keys. Cyclical patterns gradually emerge, morphing into sustained notes that meet crying cymbals. More expansive, guttural exclamations from Andonovska draw an animated response from Jacobson, their primeval funk concluding with a string of vibrato flute notes, and a rustling of shells like dripping water.
"A Loved A Long" is the first of two compositions by Nick Roth. It features intermittent spoken wordwhispered into the flute mouth to eerie effectclassical music quotations/allusions and a curious mixture of lyrical phrasing, slashing notes, explosive percussive accents and spacious abstraction. It's an elusive yet compelling performance. On Donnacha Dennehy's "Bridget," Andonovoska employs loops to create choral-like staccato phrases that repeat with variations in tempo and density. Here, there's just a hint of Philip Glass-electronica in Andonovoska's shimmering, spiraling textures.
More dramatic still are the chant-like exhalations on Judith Ring's "A Breath of Fresh Air," which toggles between evocation of birdsong, wind-like whistling and rasping urgency. Flute and voice then merge as one in a chain of sustained notes that dissolve into a gentle purr. Jacobson and Andonovoska are reunited on the grooving "Bátá," which combines spoken word interjections and driving rhythms. It's not always clear who is playing what, but either side of the ambient sounds of amplified bass-flute feedback and crying cymbals, the duo delves into rhythms that stretch from drum 'n' bass to African ritual grooves. A mesmerizing thirteen minutes concludes on a gentle, though stubbornly pulsing flute note.
These five compositions are inspired by subjects as diverse as genetics, technical aspects of the written word, modern painting and the dynamics of moving air. It would require a veritable essay to tie the music in with their conceptual frameworks, which is beyond the remit of this review. A visit to Diatribe Record's website will reveal all. Suffice it to say, the music speaks, to a large degree, for itself. It is also evident that Andonovska and Jacobson must surely continue to pursue their fascinating dialog at greater length.
Contemporary yet timeless, A Way A Lone A Last is an absorbing blend of cerebral concept and visceral, playful execution. Andonovoska's fine debut is brimming with energy and bold textures, though marked throughout by nuance. A name to watch out for.
Hox; A Loved A Long; Bridget; A Breath of Fresh Air; Bátá.
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