Azul is an aural meditation by electric violinist David Strother that covers a wide swathe of emotions and delves fearlessly into the human condition. The word azul means "blue" in Spanish, and indeed the songs explore many shades of this emotional color. The blues also refer to loss: during the editing and mixing phases of the EP, Strother learned about the death of bassist and composer Charlie Haden, a musician who influenced him deeply, so the EP also serves as an homage to Haden and his profound musical contributions.
Azul consists of seven songs, all electric violin solos with floating ambient sounds, each one an exquisite miniature that paints an elegant emotional portrait. "Un Cafecito con Mi Amor" ("A Cuban Espresso with My Love") resonates with a tender beauty, giving a sense of a bittersweet meeting, perhaps a discussion of a final parting. Strother plays with a refined delicacy that's genuinely piercing, his violin shimmering through sensitive byways. "The End of Hope" is another thoughtful soundscape, a quiet journey into the dark places. It's as if Strother is depicting the sound of emotion, the way it quivers as it travels through the synapses. "One Sad Bus Ride" indeed gives the sense of being on a bus, perhaps surrounded by people but feeling alone, or maybe having a hushed conversation that would have been better conducted in private. The titles in these evocative pieces offer clues, and yet at the same time the songs are wonderfully open and available to whatever is brought to them.
"Elegy for Newtown" is a heartfelt meditation on an unthinkable tragedy, as well as a depiction of how music can help us process both the large and small tragedies of life. "2296" is a gorgeous piece with stark notes and looming electronic backgrounds, full of atmospheric sizzling and subliminal undercurrents. Again the title is evocative, perhaps referring to a date in time that holds special meaning, or some personal mystery yet to be uncovered. "Luminoso" is a Spanish word for "bright," and indeed the violin is brighter here, sweeping majestically as it rises through a background of thrumming ambience. The EP's final track, "The Blessing They Have Yet to Honor," is a luminous piece, with the delicacy of the violin offset by otherworldly electricity.
Strother has carved out a very special field for himself, a depiction of nuanced sensations too often overlooked in our noisy world. Through the vehicle and vision of his violin, he creates sonic haiku that allow us to experience the finer emotional colorings that, although sometimes challenging, infuse life with richness.
Un Cafecito con Mi Amor; The End of Hope; One Sad Bus Ride; Elegy for Newtown; 2296; Luminoso; The Blessing They Have Yet to Honor.
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