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Elori Saxl - The Blue of Distance Music Album Reviews

Elori Saxl - The Blue of Distance Music Album Reviews
Building a hypnotic counterpoint between a bright chamber-music ensemble and groaning analog synthesizers, composer Elori Saxl’s debut is an investigation of emotion and seasonal change.

Much has changed in music since Antonio Vivaldi unveiled his set of four concerti, The Four Seasons, some 300 years ago. Yet composers’ awe and fascination for the ecological cycle remains undiminished. Edvard Grieg’s To Spring? The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’”? DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”? All are paeans to the strange wonder of something as inevitable and elementary as, say, the first warm day of spring, or the humid ecstasy of summer.
In its own way, so is The Blue of Distance, the quietly mesmerizing debut album by Elori Saxl, a Brooklyn-based composer and filmmaker with an interest in how technology alters humans’ connection to nature. Saxl wrote the first half of the album in mid-summer, during a blissful stay in the Adirondack Mountains. She wrote the second half months later, in northern Wisconsin, her mood darkened by winter. “I was staying at my family’s place on an island in Lake Superior surrounded by ice and gray skies, and I was feeling pretty low,” Saxl said. “I would look at photos from my summer and try to remember what it had felt like to be there and then to write music from that now-distant place.”

This would be an intriguing academic exercise, but Saxl’s music—which builds a hypnotic counterpoint between a bright chamber-music ensemble and groaning analog synthesizers—works on an emotional level as well. The Blue of Distance is unusually beautiful, drawing on the gushing orchestral minimalism of 1970s Steve Reich (“Blue,” “Memory of Blue”), the dramatic harmonics of Philip Glass’ Glassworks (“Wave II”), and even Matmos’ flair for found-sound samples. Saxl incorporates processed recordings of wind and water, but instead of foregrounding these natural sounds, she manipulates and molds them into quasi-beats. A track’s only rhythm section, so to speak, may be the sound of water flowing beneath ice.

The “summer” half of the record is rich with bubbling strings and buoyant woodwinds, based around music written for an 18-person chamber orchestra. There are no vocals, but Saxl’s melodic gift shines through, propelling the gorgeous, oboe-driven “Wave I.” The “winter” half is more brooding and spacious. By her own judgement, Saxl failed to replicate the emotions of summer: “That process didn’t work,” she writes, “but what resulted was perhaps more interesting: a distorted version of the original experience.” On “Memory of Blue,” the swelling strings feel distant and strained, as if the composer’s own memory were fading in and out.

Ambient music is sometimes associated with reverent stillness, but one of the best qualities of The Blue of Distance is its constant, pulsing movement. The modular synths of “Blue” chug and whirr like steam locomotives. The ascending cello scales of “Wave II” are always in motion, seamlessly morphing from bowed strings to pizzicato notes; below, a percussive loop rustles and clangs like rusty machinery. (This loop, strangely enough, resembles the field recordings from Panda Bear’s 2007 classic “Take Pills.”) Only the final track, a seven-minute drone, lacks this sense of movement. It’s the album’s least compelling piece, drifting off into a melancholic sigh.

Listening at home, I find myself longing to hear the album in actual motion—on an airplane or a speeding train, peering out at lakes or mountains like those that inspired Saxl. In a time of quarantine, that’s a distant fantasy—fitting, perhaps, for an album so focused on interrogating the limitations of memory and technology to create real sensation. Luckily, The Blue of Distance is expressive enough to conjure a sensory experience of its own.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Elori Saxl - The Blue of Distance Music Album Reviews Elori Saxl - The Blue of Distance Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, February 03, 2021 Rating: 5

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