SARA SOLTAU - SERIES 1.2: IN PARTS
auralgami sounds 2017, edition of 50
"Sara Soltau is rooted in classical music but constantly curious. Blurring genres and traditions, she experiments through her violin to understand the sonic world around us." - AURALGAMI SOUNDS
in their three years, AURALGAMI have accumulated an impressive range of sounds and styles - there's little that doesn't at least toe the line of weirdness -which is quite alright by me- but other than that there's no tellin what's next, their roster is a potpourri of garage punk, synth pop, world music, quirky techno - one tape sounds like it belongs on IN THE RED, another is a twenty-piece ensemble performance of TERRY RILEY's IN C - in contrast, tributary SERIES -an aptly minimalist title for their sub-label esque "solo compositions and chamber work"- runs a straighter course with a distinct vibe connecting the dots - carefully considered exposition of composition, experimentation and excellence, kinda like ENO's OBSCURE, catering to a close listening experience, outright rejecting the passive notion of "ambient" or "furniture music"
it's been more than a year since SERIES launched with inaugural cassette TEN SIMPLE PIECES FOR PIANO [REC #123] by ROB COLLIER, a most unassuming grand slam, and i would be lying if i said i didn't think there was a chance that SERIES might wind up a one hit wonder with a tape -that- damn good right out of the gate - but that was not my predominant sentiment, and certainly not my hope - i hoped for another tape half as good as TSPFP, but what i got was a tape that is -at least- as good
like COLLIER, it's on that immersed side of listening where SOLTAU wins big with her SERIES entry IN PARTS, a seamless patchwork of intimate interludes and stark stirring renditions of already stark and stirring works like BACH's SONATA NO. 2 and SAARIAHO's NOCTURNE, which, if you plot those two points you can determine the general heading, but there are crucial well executed deviations that include a revolutionary war traditional and DYLAN's HARD RAIN, both incorporated neatly into this surprisingly multi-dimensional masterpiece channeling a wide swath of "violin music" - not that SOLTAU is a chameleon on IN PARTS, but there is a host of influences drawn from centuries of classical composition and folklore, from BACH and SHOSTAKOVICH to BUDD and BRYARS to ATLANTIC's SOUNDS OF THE SOUTH and HARRY SMITH's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC - she's kinda like an american roots music informed COCKPIT ENSEMBLE of one, with a little help from her friends
there's not a lot i can point to in terms of my usual contemporary comparisons - there's some moody atmospheric saxophone overlap during the interludes with PSI LAB's own A MELBOURNE NOCTURNE [PL13] courtesy DAVID COLOHAN aka RAISING HOLY SPARKS, and perhaps some listening synergy with SOMNOROASE PASARELE's DEMO [REC #194] and some of OJERUM's most recent works (more on those later, if i can just find the time) - on the guitar side of things, i might point to JON COLLIN's THE NATURE [REC #197] and the ROB NOYES / ALEXANDER split [REC #195], perhaps BITTER FICTIONS' XXVII [REC #190] - but all of this is more in context of the high yield close listening experience - there is something at work behind the notes in all of these which i cannot fully explain - SOLTAU has the same quality, she just gets there by a path less traveled around these parts of the weirdo cassette blogosphere
i am most grateful that SERIES -and these artists- are there to deliver a no brainer top five tape each of the past two years, and i desperately hope they keep it goin - i'm surprised that this tape sold out as fast as it did - i turned around and it was gone - i know that COLLIER's was twice as many tapes but there are still a handful of that one left at the source, which, if you've bothered to read this far and you don't already have then you should absolutely snag while you can - anyway, i urge you to experience IN PARTS any way you can - stream it, or buy the download, or politely pester the label and/or artist directly -which i've done a time or two over the years- or GUESTROOM LOUISVILLE might even have a tape with your name on it