The Smudges

Song And Call
(Cryptogramophone)

The highly original work of violinist Jeff Gauthier and cellist Maggie Parkins, stars of the West Coast new music scene, resists classification. How deeply their Smudges debut rings and pulsates and pleases.

From “Music Of Chants,” Guy Klucevsek’s memorial to John Cage, through “Release,” Tom Flaherty’s layered journey through echo and repetition, Song And Call is this intrepid couple’s tethering of nature and technology. The result is a kind of cyborg chamber music that, from the start, immerses the listener in a cathedral of the mind.

Gauthier and Parkins extend themselves on the title track, where bouncing bows and Parkins’ whistling announce an avian conference by way of slowed-down samples of birdsong, the voices triggered by Gauthier’s foot pedals. What starts exclusively avian soon comes to mimic the sounds of a rain forest. What begins calmly becomes frenetic. The sounds, at times hugely electronic, always seem natural.

Other tracks are just as startling, from the untrammeled “The Gigue Is Up” to the seething “Blitva,” a shorter cut that conjures a boat yawing its way through a storm. “Gigue” is a hoedown in which Parkins ascends harmonically as Gauthier accelerates the pace. The electronic undertow transmits both threat and exhilaration. “Blitva” is heavily looped, the strings thickening to guard against turbulence.

Largely composed by Gauthier and Parkins, the ambitious Song And Call is an unbounded, successful experiment in creativity. This couple traffics in intelligence. Whether it’s technological or natural doesn’t much matter to them.



On Sale Now
December 2022
Kenny Barron
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