Achieving an aim by walking across the extremes of auditory and psychological awareness. Is this possible without losing at least a modicum of quality? Judging from the intelligence emanated by Host – a concise and seriously impacting work by cellist Anthea Caddy and electroacoustic composer Thembi Soddell – the answer is emphatically affirmative.
In the lengthy and cinematically outstanding “Dissembling”, the audio landscape is shaped by natural open vistas and stomach-gripping closures upon which the cello repeatedly explodes in clusters of crackling snaps, ferocious rumbles, disintegrated upper partials and rattling arco. The so-called “quieter” parts maintain a firm clutch on the listener’s sense of anticipation, spreading a tone of overwhelming imminence. No, make that “impending risk”. The grand crescendo in the last three minutes must be heard to be believed; ultimately we’re left alone with indecipherable out-of-town echoes, nocturnal crickets and impermanent aircrafts in a gorgeous finale.
“A Shut In Place” introduces an intense growling drone by Caddy, immediately enhanced and expanded by Soddell’s enlightened processing. The accumulation soon turns into a veritable hallucination, whistling-and-wheezing frequencies slapping our face like a tempest of icy sand, then we’re led towards a gradual decreasing of the sonic mass until silence falls. What’s remarkable is the parallelism between the imposing beauty of the acoustic frontal and the effective depth of the music, from which years of systematic study and absolute committedness transpire.
“Intimate Geometry” ends the album on the same level of wallop and superiority over products whose “fineness” is limited to their surface. An abysmal background made of distant tremors, sinister roars and an intriguing human/insect mix is broken by fulminant crepitations and thuds, after which another of the truly exciting studies in mounting loudness conceived by the duo hits hard, even when interrupted by fleeting silent fragments. The ending leaves us again in perplexed suspension, trying to catch a glimpse of a macrocosm that can’t be portrayed by mere words.
Unfamiliar, unforeseen, uncompromising. A dramatic message by two brilliant owners of discriminating ears and sharp brains.