|Cara Stacey — Things That Grow (September 18th, 2015)
Cara Stacey — Things That Grow (September 18th, 2015)•• Things That Grow is a fluid musical project exploring the sonic possibilities of southern African musical bows within improvisatory contexts. On this album, Cara Stacey performs contemporary compositions and improvisations on the umrhubhe and uhadi bows with Shabaka Hutchings (clarinet, tenor saxophone), Seb Rochford (drums), Ruth Goller (bass), Crewdson (concertronica), and Dan Leavers (synths/production). Combining original compositions by Cara and Shabaka, as well as freely conceived improvisations, this recording aims to stretch the boundaries of bow music in an ensemble and create something entirely new.
•• Cara is a South African multi–instrumentalist, composer and researcher. She is a pianist and plays different southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhoyane). Cara holds a BMus in musicology from the University of Cape Town, an MMus in musicology from Edinburgh University, and an MMus in musical performance from SOAS (London). Cara is currently completing her doctoral research through the South African College of Music (UCT) and SOAS, specialising in the makhoyane braced–bow of Swaziland. A founding member of Inclement Quartet and Pergola, she has performed in numerous ensembles in South Africa, England, and Scotland. She is based between London, Cape Town, and Mbabane.Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Album release: September 18th, 2015
Record Label: Kit Records
1. Oscillations 5:56
2. Dark Matter 5:35
3. Sunbird 6:34
4. Circadian Clocks 4:17
5. Theta Waves 5:28
6. Duree 5:16
7. Music Of The Spheres 3:10
8. Fox 9:36
• Cara Stacey — umrhubhe and uhadi bows
• Shabaka Hutchings (clarinet, tenor saxophone),
• Seb Rochford (drums),
• Ruth Goller (bass),
• Crewdson (concertronica),
• Dan Leavers (synths/production).•• Combining original compositions by Cara and Shabaka, as well as freely conceived improvisations, this recording aims to stretch the boundaries of bow music in an ensemble and create something entirely new.
•• South African multi–instrumentalist/composer Cara Stacey brings an extensive academic background and highly developed sensibility to her twelve–inch album Things That Grow.
•• In addition to classical training in piano, she’s developed impressive facility as a southern African bow player and as a vocalist. After completing a BMUS in musicology from the South African College of Music (University of Cape Town), she earned her Masters in musicology and is currently completing her doctoral research through the South African College of Music and SOAS (London), specializing in the makhoyane (a traditional instrument from Swaziland with a gourd–resonated musical bow and thus sometimes referred to as a Swazi guitar). Things That Grow presents her as a solo artist, but she’s also a member of the Inclement Quartet and plays with percussionist Sarathy Korwar in Pergola.
•• Yet while the album is, formally speaking, a solo release that highlights Stacey’s African bow playing, it just as often assumes the character of an ensemble project. Considerably enhanced by the contributions of Shabaka Hutchings (reeds), Seb Rochford (drums), Ruth Goller (bass), Crewdson (real name Hugh Jones) (concertronica), and Dan Leavers (synths), the eight–track collection includes compositions by Stacey and Hutchings as well as improvisations. Needless to say, the recording sets itself apart from others in featuring the makhoyane, uhadi (a single–string mouth bow that produces sound when the string is struck by a thin stick), and umrhubhe (as a treated stick is drawn across the instrument’s string, the bow’s pitch is changed by string plucks and whistling sounds are generated by the mouth acting as a resonator), and in the way it integrates them into a small–group context.
•• The recording’s distinctive soundworld is established when “Oscillations” opens with Stacey playing the umrhubhe, with its hypnotic bowing pattern eventually joined by her whistling vocal effects and Rochford’s drum punctuations. The ensemble dimension comes into play in the second track when “Dark Matter” adds Goller’s swinging bass lines and Hutchings’ sing–song clarinet melodies to an Afro–funk base. With the music possessing such rhythmic insistence, it would be easy to picture the material rising to a potent broil in a live context.•• While not an oil–and–water proposition, “Sunbird” aims less to fuse the instruments than juxtapose Stacey’s rhythmic patterning and the luscious harmonic textures generated by the others (including some free–wheeling treatments by Crewdson’s concertronica, an unusual controller instrument that looks and functions like an electronically customized concertina). The cyclical tenor patterns Hutchings generates via circular breathing on “Circadian Clocks” can’t help but invite comparison to Colin Stetson; during “Music of the Spheres,” on the other hand, the echo effects that multiply Hutchings’ sax combined with Stacy’s and Crewdson’s contributions lends the track a spacey, Sun Ra–like vibe.
•• As interesting as Stacey’s solo spotlights are, it’s ensemble pieces such as “Dark Matter” and “Theta Waves” that are the album’s most engaging. In these settings, we get the best of both worlds: her distinctive bow playing and the Afro–jazz swing of the other musicians. A key strength of the album is the balance Stacey strikes between tracks that spotlight her instruments and those that include the other musicians; that she also allowed non–traditional sounds such as Crewdson’s to appear on a release whose primary instruments are traditional ones is also commendable. And though the listener comes away from the recording better informed about African bow instruments, Things That Grow never feels like a musical lesson or academic exercise but rather an appetizing treat for the ears.
|Cara Stacey — Things That Grow (September 18th, 2015)