Boomkat Product Review:
Quietly gripping and unmissable solo debut from cellist Judith Hamann, following a side of oneiric collages with her strikingly definitive chamber opus, including pieces written for her by Sarah Hennies and Anthony Pateras. RIYL the patient music of Kali Malone or Sarah Davachi, the interworld insights of Pauline Oliveros, or Anna Homler’s glossolalia
‘Music for Cello and Humming’ truly marks the emergence of a vital solo talent, as Judith Hamann segues from behind the scenes as player of note with everyone from Alvin Lucier to Oren Ambarchi, Lori Goldstone and CS + Kreme, to limn her most intimate self-portrait through a suite of works for cello and wordless humming. It smartly includes two works written for her that subtly, and not so subtly, challenge her range, and thus present the Australian artist at her most vulnerable, and, likewise, quietly confident. And coming to you from Blank Forms Editions, home to some of our favourite avant-classical records of recent years (Catherine Christer Hennix, Maryanne Amacher) you can take it on trust this one’s equally worthy of attention.
On five original compositions, Hamann intuitively distills her interests in psychoacoustics, shaking, just intonation, and “the voice in relation to the femme presenting body in performance” with the hauntingly natural accompaniment of cello and voice, which are known to closest resemble each other’s range. These work, while clearly requiring concentrated skill to sustain the string notes, also work to a simpler physical pleasure of humming along to drones, creating a vibrating interference that’s felt s much as heard, and coolly controlled with a shatterproof fragility between the tremulous title piece and absorbingly smudged timbres of her Humming Suite centrepiece, ‘Harmonics étude for one cello and one voice.’
The two works written for Hamann provide complementary contrasts, with Pateras’ ‘Down to Dust’ calling for Hamann tp render her strings and voice more slanted, shimmering and dreamlike, while the album’s unsettling 28 minute final work ‘Loss’, written by Sarah Hennies, demands she hum outside her range, resulting an uncomfortable tension that resolves into near silence, but with a powerful sting in the tail that sends it over the edge and leaves us agog for her next.