HELENA ESPVALL + ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE – A Hallowed Shell Of Ash And Rust

Erototox Decodings

Helena Espvall: amplified cello, electronics and voice; Ernesto Diaz-Infante: amplified bajo sexto, acoustic steel string guitar, electronic tanpura, tom-tom drum, singing bowl and voice

While multi-talented Diaz-Infante was one of the very first artists covered by Touching Extremes at its heyday, this reviewer is introduced to Swedish cellist (and guitarist) Espvall right here. Their co-action mostly develops inside the “unearthly drone” realm; the inaugural track “Breathing Structures” transports immediate glory in that sense, producing an awesome radiance of string groans and reverberating harmonics replete with parabolic mournings and vocal ghosts evoking the picture of a god-forsaken cloister. But it’s not just low-frequency invocation in there; a piece like “Interiority” utilizes looping circles and percussively resounding elements to set up a metamorphic acoustic tissue whose staying power compares to that of an enlightening vision’s recurrent memory.

Elsewhere the sources are mixed in ways that bring forth their respective lineaments a little more, for example in the short “These Are”, Espvall’s upper partials clashing and then dancing with Diaz-Infante clangorous plucks. These traits get combined with contrasting features over the course of subsequent tracks, on occasion tending to reflective transcendence perfumed with Indian fragrances (and without fake postcard colors, needless to say). Now and then, the coalition of drone and clatter produces that much of imbalance needed to push the whole distant from commonness; the overall sound always gives an idea of non-synthetic commitment to an inner quest of some sort. “Into Subterranean Heavens” and the lengthy “Against A Realization In Weathered Iron” stand among the album’s finest messages, combining the instrumental voices at such level of connection that one can’t escape spelling the word “prayer”, whereas the long “Hollow Earth Theory” is perhaps the most aleatory chapter, structurally speaking: a semi-crystallized improvisation where plucked, picked and arcoed strings are processed by (presumptively) a chain of digital delays towards a somewhat arranged incorporeality.

Two musicians who manage to communicate a perception of multiplicity, traveling across remote environments with unostentatious sincerity. This essential righteousness, in concurrency with the sheer sonic immensity of several episodes, is the reason behind the record’s upper-class quality.

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