Alloys by Lori Goldston + Judith Hamann

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Lori Goldston and Judith Hamann | Alloys
Marginal Frequency (CD/DL)

In two long-form pieces Melbourne-based Judith Hamann and Seattle teacher Lori Goldston both bring a new language to their common instrument, the cello. The first piece seems an ‘amalgam’ of several shorter works: Silver | Amalgam | Mother of Pearl | Felt | A Thin Piece of Whale Bone. I have to tell you this is perfect as a morning listen alongside my first brew of the day (also from a small roastery in the Pacific Northwest), it swells gently but is not at all restless or sleepy. The bowing is earnest and full-bodied, emotive and delicate. While considering natural materials this conjures a host of harvesting and cleaning methods that are fertile and sweat-producing. It makes me more deeply appreciate every sip as I mentioned.

The light rippling and soft low end is as riveting as it is meditative, and the duo digs deep into the void without disappearing with incredible subtlety. In the quietude there is a deep-seated sense of presence: shadows, reverberation, traces (memories and minerals in this case). Even in the layered bloat and squeal that comes from the countermelody about three-quarters in they offer a passionate urgency to every motion and chordal swirl. These string players wield a storyline about the limitations of precious resources.

On the ‘flipside’ is Carbon | Sitka | Rabbit Hide | Solder | Matter Attacking the Body and the mood has darkened a bit. As Hamann and Goldston continue their exploration there is an uncertain leery sense in the air. The reverb is bottomless, and a little bleak — and the overt weight of their instrument becomes ominous. In testing out this composition I found listening with your eyes closed created a more overwhelming sensation, allowing the mind to fill the gaps. So much nuance is imbued here in the way the strings drag and whine, fill the blank space and otherwise divert your attention. And the duo is fearless with how they approach scale, they wisely fill the sound spectrum from top to bottom with voluminous, inspired cadences. Towards the crescendo of this second piece they play on, only tease a stifled melodrama where the bow drifts and bounces on the edge of the cello as if it’s quaking.

Alloys is a generous record of true gradations in mood and circumstance, well worthy of extended play.

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