The Black Isle by Manja Ristić


Manja Ristić | The Black Isle
Flag Day Recordings (CS/DL)

Serbian violin player Manja Ristić has only been releasing work since 2015 though this recording is so well-oiled you may imagine this virtuoso as an old master. Part of this is due to her ability to concoct settings so compelling the space just melts, as on the kickstarter Voice Engine. The sounds hover, ooze while a fantasy anthem plays ever so lightly in the background for a few moments, setting the tone. By incorporating an oscillating drone via field recordings, interventions, composition and poetry, Ristić’s palette seems endless, pale to dark to vibrant, a unique, immersive quality.

When I hear birds there’s no escaping the countless recordings floating out there that “put a bird on it” to supposedly bring this sense of harmony, peace, tranquility – but it’s not the central sketch on Black Forest, which of course would be imbued with wildlife. The hint of disquiet just lingers through the warble of strings, its ochre timbre. It feels intermediary, but also becomes the natural flow of the whole tape.

Muffled natural sounds greet gentle static in a glacial atmosphere that re-circulates air. Calm lapping waves offer a respite on The Vent. The standout track, for its diverse use of psychedelic electronic effects is Alice in the City of Dead Warlocks. As the lengthiest piece here Ristić manipulates the setting into one of short disengaged melodies, gurgling fluids, and whispers. Elsewhere more ecstatic watery scenes take center stage, and the scene is infiltrated by what could be an agitated school of sizable marine life, clinking chains and the foggy bellows of lowercase drone – we are on The Black Isle after all.

A stunning sleeper.


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