I always think of violins or cellos as relics of the past, with the power of their sound their ability to evoke the creative energies of famous (but dead) composers. But my belief, as the newest album by violinist Sarah Neufeld points out, is very much a mistake.
Her album, The Ridge, reminds us that the instrument is just as alive as the person playing it. While the entire album feels decidedly new, “The Glow” is one particularly lovely sketch of active cycles of life and death, pairing upbeat short staccato with moody electronic-noise-punk.
The plucked strings echo in the studio like dripping water in a still forest. There’s something life-giving and spontaneous about the song—the sound glows, like gently-flowing sunshine and spontaneous blooms in spring. The percussion and staccato are in conversation, with the two competing and speeding each other up. The music almost forces you to visualize her quick fingers dashing along the sleek instrument in a rapidly growing frenzy until, several minutes in, there is pure silence for a moment.
From that stagnation, a foggy electronic sound grows louder, coupled with indistinct voices, almost like slow murmuring after a good show. You wait for the musical return, hopeful for a happy end, and it’s denied to you. The song trails off without a return to the beauty of the violin and the joys of spring the happy instrument evoked. Like all glows, this song grows and fades until, ultimately, it disappears. The spring gives life, but time, always and inevitably, takes that away.
Listen here. Image from here.