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Erik Friedlander: Rings

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Repetition is sometimes seen as a bad thing. The mundane cycle of everyday life involving the same actions. However, it is only through repetition that differences can occur. A weekend is only special because it stands out as a difference from the ordinary week. But repetition is not only useful as a way of appreciating difference, it also has it is own poetry, which has been explored by minimalistic pioneers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

On the album Rings, cellist and composer, Erik Friedlander, explores the cyclical nature of composition and the compositional tool of repetition. Paradoxically, the album is incredibly varied and it examines a wide range of musical moods and textures. They range from the passionate tango of "The Seducer" to the misty impressionistic beauty of "Fracture," with a subtle percussive touch and scent of Indian spice.

Friedlander plays with his trio Black Phebe, a constellation with percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and Shoko Nagai on piano, accordion and electronics. Together they travel musically around the world in different times and places. From dusty streets and whirling dances to delicate and ethereal tone poems. The music is widescreen and it is easy to imagine several of the pieces being used in movies. For instance, "Tremors" is a slowly unfolding atmospheric piece, with gently vibrating strings singing like leaves in the wind, accompanied by drops of piano and rustling percussion.

The core of the album is "The Rings" that consists of the pieces: "Solve Me," "Canoe" and "Waterwheel." The compositions use the effect of looping, a new approach that Friedlander has not used before, as he says:

"In these pieces I create the composition as the trio improvises with me and around me. The Rings are a new thing for me. I've never been a fan of looping as a compositional technique but I turned around on it when I tried it with this band. I create the ring as we improvise and the result is hypnotic and beautiful...but organic."

The same could be said about the whole album, which is indeed both beautiful and organic. Rings is an album that successfully crosses the boundaries of classical music, jazz and world music using the vehicle of repetition. Friedlander's ability to combine melodic accessibility, improvisation and avant-garde leanings into poetic and cinematic music brings to mind the eminent pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Rings serves as an ideal introduction to new listeners and will hopefully make even more people discover Friedlander's wonderful music.

Track Listing: The Seducer; Black Phebe; A Single Eye; Fracture; Risky Business; Tremors; Small Things; Solve Me; Canoe; Waterwheel; Flycatcher; Silk.

Personnel: Erik Friedlander: cello; Shoko Nagai: piano, accordion, electronics; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion.

Title: Rings | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Skipstone Records

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