Boomkat Product Review:
A sort of slowly unfurling raga that plays tricks on your sense of depth and temporal perception, this stunning new album from long-string instrument master Ellen Fullman and cellist Theresa Wong has sent us into a light hypnotic trance with its slowly shifting tonal formations. Rarely is drone music so full of quietly cosmic eruptions - everything stays the same // nothing stays the same - pure aural alchemy.
For the uninitiated - Fullman’s instrument consists of 70-foot-long metallic wires, anchored by a wooden resonator, across which she moves backwards and forwards with rosin-covered fingers to create an effect that’s been compared to the experience of standing inside an enormous grand piano. Developed in 1981, Fullman was in search of tonalities that couldn't be achieved with traditional instruments - and her massively cumbersome instrument has been utilised to that effect ever since.
On Harbors, Inspired by the foggy San Francisco Bay, she’s joined by Cellist Theresa Wong to create elliptical tonal changes and anxiously resonant dissonance that feel like being stranded at the end of the earth. Wong is a Mills College alumnus who has developed highly individual playing techniques that take the cello into areas more closely rooted in the sounds of the natural world, always with a kind of theatrical dexterity.
Split into three movements, the piece is anchored by Fullman’s transfixing and slowly shifting drone, cut and overplayed with an orchestration of aberrant melodies and glistening atmospheres that are shimmering with life. It’s a fascinating addition to Fullman’s catalogue - at once disciplined but also quietly delirious in a way that’s pretty much impossible to describe. Anyway, there’s a video online of the pair of them checking test pressings of this album, gently swaying to the music. You can almost sense them both getting lost in their own mythical dimensions.