Library Tapes: Sun Peeking Through

It's interesting to listen to David Wenngren's latest Library Tapes recording and then follow it with one of his earliest ones. One immediately notices how much the atmospheric sound textures so much a part of the earlier material are almost entirely gone on Sun Peeking Through. To a large degree, this latest half-hour collection (on Wenngren's own Auetic label) is Library Tapes at its purest, with Wenngren's piano accompanied on seven of the mini-album's ten tracks by the violin playing of Sarah Kemp (tracks two and six) and the cello of Danny Norbury (seven) and Julia Kent (three, four, eight, and nine).

Two settings where processed sounds and ambient textures are most definitely present, however, are the opening “Variation II” and closing “Variation I” where blurry, reverb-drenched fogs roll in that are so thick Wenngren's scattered piano accents almost vanish in the haze. The second piece is minimalistic by comparison, as Wenngren's elegant piano and Kemp's plaintive string melodies imbue “Parlour-Variation I” with both courtly and elegiac flavour. Certainly one of the loveliest pieces is the wistful title track, which augments Kent's emotive cello playing with Wenngren's lilting waltz patterns.

Multi-tracking is sometimes used to amplify a given player's instrument, such as when Kemp's violin is multiplied into an entire string section during “End of the Summer.” In similar manner, Norbury only appears on one track, but his contribution to the recording is memorable indeed when he becomes a one-man string orchestra in “Lost.” Squeezing ten pieces into a half-hour recording obviously means that the recording's solo and duet performances must make their respective cases with dispatch. Even so, little is lost through such compression; “Found,” for example, manages to conjure an air of mystery and trepidation despite its brief three-minute running time, and the solo piano rumination “We Won't Need You Anymore” is evocative, too, even though it's a mere two minutes long. One might think of Sun Peeking Through, then, as an exquisite if short addition to Wenngren's Library Tapes discography.

July-August 2012