Review: Troy Schafer - Evening Song Awaken (2012) 1


artist: Troy Schafer
release: Even­ing Song Awaken
format: CD-R
year of release: 2012
label: Recital
dur­a­tion: 41:00

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Troy Schafer, involved in pro­jects like Rain Drink­ers and Wreathes has some solo works as well, and Even­ing Song Awaken is to my know­ledge his first full album release. As a clas­sic­ally trained viol­in­ist, Schafer gives centre stage to this instru­ment here, lay­er­ing melod­ies and string drones, with a fas­cin­at­ing spec­trum of com­pos­i­tional influ­ences. Do read on, because this is one of my favour­ite releases of the year thus far.

The first group­ing of tracks, “The Desire Towards Joy”, is a romantic and mel­an­cholic clas­sical com­pos­i­tion, where the rhythm flows around the main melodic swoops. Here and there, we hear soft per­cus­sion thuds, and both low and high notes provid­ing drones in the back­ground at the end of the first cycle. The second cycle con­tin­ues the romantic, flow­ing theme, and includes tiny hints of what might be soft vocals in the back­ground. The “arpeg­gios” are a fine coda to this first tri­logy of tracks, start­ing with thickly layered sus­tained bow­ing, and end­ing in the broken chords that give the piece its name.

The Spring of Instinct” is a very short duo of atonal pieces, func­tion­ing per­haps as a bit of a quirky pal­ate cleanser before the exten­ded tracks that are to fol­low. “Let the Corpse of the Mind Lie Unbur­ied…” is the longest com­pos­i­tion on the album, and it is highly influ­enced by drone and min­imal music. A few sus­tained note sequences form the basis for most of the track, which is embel­lished by small modi­fic­a­tions and melod­ies. After four minutes or so, silence sets in briefly, giv­ing way to trum­pet (an instru­ment that Schafer uses spar­ingly and suc­cess­fully in many of his pro­jects) and exper­i­mental vocals, and soon joined by violin again. From here, a denser drone is again built up, with a rel­at­ively free tonal range, build­ing towards an intense cli­max. The final track, “Faint Fresh Fire”, fea­tures a few more other instru­ments, such as an organ and synth intro, bells, and more (I think) vocal work mim­ick­ing high-pitched animal voices. A bril­liant piece that does quite a bit to tie in the purer violin works that came before with the more band- and ensemble-oriented music Schafer pro­duces in his other pro­jects.

In short, Even­ing Song Awaken is the work of a con­fid­ent and very accom­plished viol­in­ist and com­poser, and one that is unafraid to push bound­ar­ies with his music. I have the utmost respect for Schafer’s work, and this album, lim­ited to 200 CD-R cop­ies, should not be miss­ing from your col­lect­ing if you value mod­ern clas­sical (violin) music, as well as innov­at­ive acous­tic music in gen­eral.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. The Desire Towards Joy - Cycle I (6:09)
2. The Desire Towards Joy - Cycle II (4:39)
3. The Desire Towards Joy - Arpeg­gios (4:03)
4. The Spring Of Instinct - Cycle I (0:46)
5. The Spring Of Instinct - Cycle II (0:25)
6. Let The Corpse Of The Mind Lie Unbur­ied On The Edge Of The Great Sea! (16:41)
7. Faint Fresh Fire (8:19)