You know you’re engaged with something special when the very first chord of a composition steals the breath away with a beauty so profound as to be painful. This is what happened with Five Strings by Ian Vine, a composer whose harmonic intuition has found this writer tuned in to the same wavelength ever since we studied Vine’s conceptions in 2014’s Frieze/Static Form/Division. However, we’re dealing with a rare occurrence here. Specifically, a piece of work that completely absorbs all the energy your systems at that time are producing, and retransmits it in a way that absolutely strengthens one’s own beliefs in Sound and its mind-enhancing attributes. In the meantime, the inability to verbally explain to other people the ongoing inner process as the whole unfolds causes a degree of sadness.
Narrowing our focus to the compositional structure, Vine entrusted himself and some of his relatives with the origination of diverse pitches via four guitars and a bass, then recombined them so that in this 36-minute opus, offered in both continuous and 5-part versions, no two chords are identical. One of Vine’s trademarks is the effectively limitless permutation of simple combinations; on this particular occasion, he has lifted his creative skills to the highest possible levels in that regard. What one hears is a stunning series of diaphanous contrapuntal essences, filled with iridescent upper partials and resonant tones, with all the ultramundane resplendence that can be imagined in such a setting. Personally speaking, I’ve been wanting to take a bath in these crystal waters for weeks now. And I’m not done yet. On the level of minimalist masterpieces built on vibrational purity – say, Charlemagne Palestine’s Four Manifestations On Six Elements – this is an unquestionable milestone. Trust your experienced pilot: we’re flying at comparable altitudes. The moment has arrived for Ian Vine’s insight to be translated into acoustic richness in a recording by a premier ensemble, on a top-notch label.