Boomkat Product Review:
Two masters of very different string instruments, Ellen Fullman and Okkyung Lee, colour in ‘The Air Around Her’ with beguiling microtonal timbres at a time-melting pace for John Chantler’s 1703 Skivbolaget, Stunning, highly absorbing recordings.
Setting up her famous long string instrument in the 26 metre length of Stockholm’s Kronobageriet - Sweden’s former royal bakery - Ellen Fullman brings a lifetime of dedication to her unwieldy and uniquely resonant instrument, while preeminent improvising cellist Okkyung Lee acts as a more agile counterpoint, subtly contrasting Ellen’s glacial cadence with a broader range of quicker strokes and pointed extended technique.
Produced by John Chantler and recorded by Maria Horn during the First Edition Festival for Other Music, Stockholm on 20th February 2016, ‘The Air Around Her’ takes its title from a quote in ‘Vermeer Interiors’, a poem by Margaret Rabb, from her book ‘Granite Dives’. In both parts, Ellen and Okkyung play with sound as light, conducting a tonal shadowplay of inherently vast scope and ambition that comes with any recordings of Ellen’s long string instrument, as it always requires a good deal of time and space to properly tune and set up.
The results are swept around the space of the old bakery, captivating in their keening swoons and nimble plies, and also the smoothness and friction of their flux of overtones, seeming to coruscate and bend in mid-air in tingling ecstasies, always pulling the ear to the full extent of the room’s parameters.