(Confront)

“Over shadows” – title courtesy Redell Olsen’s “Secure portable space” book – is a single track, 36 minutes long, for harp and eBow. Rhodri Davies, whose presence on the EAI scene has been fundamental since the very beginning, for once abandoned the drastic variety of his instrumental approach (at the basis of a method that usually tends to remain in proximity of the timbral extremities) to mindfully scrutinize the harmonic tissue of string vibration. A step that, at this point in the Welshman’s career, recalls a bit his comrade Mark Wastell’s choice to leave the cello and focus on the more static aspects of gong reverberation. The chief reference name in this composition would obviously appear to be Alvin Lucier, as Davies’ subtle juxtaposition of resonant overtones elicits the typical effects of beating between frequencies on the one hand, of marvellous saturation of the auditive channels on the other, especially when one listens to the music via headphones: moments of stunning loss of balance await, and it’s just wonderful. But, needless to say, eBowed strings need the corners of a room like an old man needs a morning walk to keep himself alive and functional. The essential beauty of this piece comes out when we let it spread from the speakers throughout our space, either concentrating on the ever-changing quivering taking advantage of Davies’s attentive adjacences – morphing clouds of upper partials moving in a weak sunrise of almost immobile polychromy – or by walking around installation-style. With “Over shadows” Davies fully accomplished what other composers – Cor Fuhler’s “Stengam” on Potlatch comes to mind – managed to achieve only to some extent: the full exploitation of a complex body of oscillations whose wavering G-spot asks for a 110% sensitiveness by the player to release its gratifying secrets. A lovely effort worthy of a wide, knowledgeable audience.

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