Boomkat Product Review:
Quirky, noise-damaged instrumental collages that teeter between glitchy YouTube samples, Ableton presets, clattery folk twangs and pristine, glacial classical cinematics. Basically somewhere between Jóhann Jóhannsson, l'ocelle mare and James Ferraro.
There's a polar interplay between vastly different kinds of musical and artistic signaling on "Woodwind Quintet" that makes it fascinating. It's the first document of a long-distance collaboration between Berlin-based American composer and synth builder Bridget Ferrill and Copenhagen-based Icelandic instrumentalist Áslaug Magnúsdóttir, who's best known for her work in ambient folk act Samaris. Both artists bring with them the baggage of academic training, but fight against their better inclinations as much as they build from them. Opening track 'Sensitive Town' begins with crunchy noise that might be more readily expected on a Lasse Marhaug album, but is quickly interrupted by pinging string samples, processed awkwardly and obviously to remove their inherent (corny?) humanity.
Ferrill and Magnúsdóttir aren't content with making music that's either pretty or aesthetically pristine. Every time you feel like you're about to be pulled in one direction, the sound is taken somewhere else, erupting into blitzed canned rhythms or cyclic classical minimalism for seconds before dipping into another dimension entirely. Remarkably well conceived tracks like 'Gossip' - a collision of baroque classical, eardrum-poking power electronics and, most confusingly, Lorenzo Senni-esque weightless trance - anchor the album in a conceptual soup of boundary-pushing cross genre experimentation that's hard not to enjoy.
Alternatively, the folkish back-and-forth between ruff DIY recording techniques and folky instrumental prettiness (like on the ace 'Metal Slug Sings') creates a scene-straddling sound that crosses the boundaries between Fonal's gritty forest folk, STROOM's eccentric fourth world library sounds and an outsider techno tape from the US's East Coast basement underground. Ferrill and Magnúsdóttir's genius is in crossing these elements so seamlessly with HD classical sounds that have, in recent years, become the staple of mainstream Hollywood cinema and high-profile Netflix or HBO episodic television. This interplay is smart and refreshing, and a thoughtful way for both artists to investigate their academic past and the impact it's had on their production and performance.