Monday, October 15, 2012

Mariel Roberts Nonextraneous Sounds Innova 2012

Only 24 and Mariel Roberts is making a defining statement as one of the most dazzling cellists on the New York scene. Another fearless debut recording on Innova has the aptly titled Nonextraneous Sounds charting a new course in artistic expression and lyrical direction while others would be far more content to play it safe. An accessible Philip Glass like minimalism that transforms the contemporary cello techniques using five stunning solo works and three which incorporate electronics into a very special statement of an artist who is indeed as technical proficient as she is artistically gifted.

Roberts refers to the ability to relate to the cello due to the wide sonic spectrum with which the instrument can navigate while never losing the human touch of expressiveness. While only five pieces in length, each has been especially commissioned for Roberts and serve as one act plays within a play. The somewhat conceptualized nature of the release is for Roberts, " an album that sounds like the city I live in." That it does...

Opening with "Three Shades, Foreshadows" ironically inspired by Rodin's sculpture, "The Three Shades" the layered texture resulting in a cerebral attack on the senses due largely in part to the liver performer and the three digital playback parts. A percussive pulse seems to form a musical bond with the bell like tones resulting from placing mini-clothespins near the base of the fingerboard. There is an ominous spatial warmth while using these deceptively subtle production oriented slights of hand that could have been a sonic disaster in the hands of lesser talent. "Teaser" shows the ability to change dynamics at will while maintaining an engaging and creative harmonic direction is a thing of beauty. Improvisational classical? A critics worst nightmare. The beauty of this work is that every present quality in those gifted few of attempting to place a square peg in a musical round whole. The mysterious tension created by "Saint Arc" from the bow work and the multi dimensional harmonics that explode from Roberts hand combine with pre-recorded and processed cello work to again push ones cerebral cortex into sensory overload. New sounds seemingly emerge in an endless stream with each subsequent spin.

A delightful marriage of the abstract and the conventional with neither overshadowing the other with self-indulgent pretentiousness. Nonextraneous Sounds takes the often played out term "organic" and gives real meaning to an abstract word often used when a critic can think of nothing else to say. Free your mind.

Tracks: Three Shades, Foreshadows; Teaser; Saint Arc; Flutter; Formations.

Personnel: Mariel Roberts: cello.

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