Aina Myrstener Cello: Cellomusik
While Cellomusik isn't the first solo cello recording textura has reviewed (Julia Kent's Character and Jody Redhage's Of Minutiae and Memory spring to mind as recent standouts), it's certainly a credible enough example of its genre type. It's a particularly well-realized one, too, especially when one takes into consideration that it's the debut solo album by Aina Myrstener Cello.
On production-related grounds, the album's ten songs were constructed using samples of Myrstener's cello playing as the starting point, samples that originated out of improvisations that were then edited and assembled into their final form. The typical Cellomusik piece is equally rich in both melodic and rhythmic senses, though one thing that perhaps sets her recording apart from other cello-based efforts is its greater emphasis on the rhythmic side (see “Fyra Väggar”). In many a piece, a rhythmic pattern is set down as a foundation that, once in place, frees her to add melodic phrases overtop of it.
The fact that a single instrument has been used hasn't prevented Myrstener from creating a set-list distinguished by stylistic and emotional variety, and many moments recommend the release. A Bach-flavoured pattern lends “Mikrober” propulsive force, while a satisfying balance is struck during “Gamla Tid” in the way the swoop of its folk-styled melodies aligns with the cello-generated rhythm patterns. Darker by comparison is “Verklighetsflykt,” which augments its portentous mood with exotic percussive flourishes. Like ocean waves, bowed tones in “Johanna - Sista Timmen” see-saw hypnotically for almost seven minutes.
“Fyra Väggar” dramatically shifts the balance to the rhythmic side in focusing on African-styled percussive patterns Myrstener generates by (presumably) knocking and tapping on the instrument. What results is four minutes of feverish groove-based music that at moments suggests a connection, however tangential, to techno. Something similar occurs at album's end in “Levande,” which arrestingly merges ascending glissandi effects with primitive percussive patterns.
In certain respects, Cellomusik is a modest recording: it splits ten songs between two vinyl sides, and most of the pieces clock in at about three minutes on average. But one comes away from the recording appreciative of the fact that the thirty-five-minute release is free of excess and impressed by the circumspection shown by the Stockholm, Sweden-based Myrstener in ending a piece once its story has been told rather than indulgently stretching it out.