Album: REDHOOKER – Vespers (Soft Landing 2010)

Redhooker is a Brooklyn based chamber quartet / quintet led by Slow Six’s guitarist Stephen Griesgraber. Also on board are current and former Slow Six violinists Ben Lively and Maxim Moston, plus third violinist Andie Springer and bass clarinetist Peter Hess. Since their last mini LP, 2007’s The Future According to Yesterday, the ensemble’s sound has changed with the loss of Rob Collins’ electric piano. This leaves the guitar and bass clarinet to provide much of the rhythmic structure while the violins provide most of the melodic colour.

The six tracks that make up Vespers include four composed pieces and two lengthy improvisations. The former are generally reflective chamber pieces, although “Friction” has a sprightly air about it and “Trip and Fall” builds from something melancholy into something full-blooded and joyful..

The improvised tracks have a completely different character, with drone and space as their foundation. “Presence and Reflection” is like a dust cloud of sound that gradually coalesces and gains form and structure with a simple guitar progression emerging more than half way through that has a melody the others eventually follow and work around. It’s a beautifully constructed and paced piece. “Black Light Poster Child” creaks and sighs like the hull of a galleon, before drifting into a narcotic drone-piece over which micro-melodies rise and fall. And then it gradually dissolves away into the void.

The composed pieces are delightful and full of charm, especially the closing track, but for me it’s the two longform works that make Vespers essential listening.

Tracks
1 . Standing Still 5:48
2 . Bedside 5:35
3 . Presence and Reflection 12:53
4 . Friction 4:32
5 . Black Light Poster Child 14:26
6 . Trip and Fall 6:24

Websites
www.myspace.com/redhooker

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