Violinvocations by Hugh Marsh

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Hugh Marsh | Violinvocations
Western Vinyl (LP/DL)

I Laid Down In The Snow is the opener to Canadian musician Hugh Marsh‘s latest, Violinvocations. Oozing with air-brushed drone and a fly-like buzz at first, the setting is somewhat barren, the mood distinctively peculiar. There lay Marsh’s strings, in there somewhere, amid the solitude, the static and effects-laden intrigue. It plays on its form, the rotation of the vinyl itself, and then flutters into abbreviated voice codecs and other glitch-isms on Miku Murmuration that seem to reflect and nod to Eastern themes. A curious and bold set of manipulations that turn the human voice into a playful, gamelike sample. Some of these trajectories are further explored on Da Solo Non Solitaro.

On Thirtysix Hundred Grandview we likely hear his instrument on slightly more classical terms, however it seems plucked softly like a front porch banjo in the American South then wheat may accompany a thirty-piece in a Bartok concerto. It’s warped, almost drunken, and Marsh takes nothing for granted in its eccentricity, instead he pushes the envelope of possibility here, creating a rhythmic anomaly. In the repetitive cycle one may imagine whirling dervishes, or industry at midday. There are more left turns here than in a typical instrumental recording, but that seems to be not only the working construct here, but the sleeve’s hidden ace. It keeps you guessing, even in those transitional pieces like The Rain Gambler.

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The twang and percussive play finds the outer-most edge of rock/roll on the molten (and minimal) side of tearing it up like Hendrix on A Beautiful Mistake, a commentary on velocity and feedback. This is one of those conceptual tracks that delivers a bit of a cheshire smile to the limitations and expectations of the medium. Chin-up and full steam ahead as the rocky road will be met with a bent horizonline. There’s so much reverence to its extremes that these so-called “violinvocations”  all but subdue any/all trappings and expectations of one of the world’s most beautiful sounding musical inventions on Across The Aether. Any rambling enter into a blend of sweet harmony and its random irreverence – it’s the old adage, opposites attract.

Taking off with finely stretched chords She Will becomes the unexpected conclusion. Like a long wave goodbye, Marsh’s strings are tight, so much so they are deliver a form of melancholy even coming off, for a split second, like bagpipes. A bright fluidity with fewer broken effects, yet the silky layers writhe around a twittering staccato. A homecoming.

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