Sarah Hughes: zither; Rhodri Davies; harp; Neil Davidson: guitar; Jane Dickson: piano; Patrick Farmer: electronics; Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga: zither
Obviously responsive to the magnitude of the environmental undertones when deciding to record in an abandoned transmission station (in Powys, mid-Wales), Sarah Hughes plucks and bows her prepared zither in “Criggion (after Only)” thus producing a somewhat predictable but still rather impenetrable combination of tinny slenderness and massively reverberant urban exhalation, occasionally interspersed with remote apparitions by birds and other contingent factors. The stability between the parts is up to standard, isolated stretched pitches and pings emerging from the whooshing accumulation as tiny ant heads from a miniature mountain of mud and detritus.
Hughes’ composition “(can never exceed unity)” is subsequently presented in three versions of twenty, ten and four+ minutes respectively, the latter gifted with a “contemporary chamber identity” of sorts. In the midst of expected stretches of silence, the participating instrumentalists (the composer is not one of them in this case) emit segments whose timbral range is explicated in the realm of altered-pitch strident transcendence, with the addition of heavier low frequencies when electronic reinforcement is implemented, infrequent “regular” (or so) notes and structural tremors during the development of the collective upper partial formation (which – should you have doubts – remains absolutely minimal throughout). Sporadic passing cars in the background donate a minimum of deepness to the acoustic picture; the ears are recurrently punctured by undeviating quivering emissions in the middle-to-high register, then relieved by the sudden ceasing of that uncomfortable yet strengthening drill. That stillness becomes necessary to prepare ourselves to the next steps.