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Echolocation: Resonate From Here
Various Artists Tom Bolton , June 27th, 2023 07:24

A crack team of remixers and re-imaginers, assembled by Laura Cannell from a base in Snape Maltings. Lori Goldston, Rakhi Singh, Nik Colk Void, Gazelle Twin… Echolocators, assemble!

From the creative lodestone that is Laura Cannell, purveyor of East Anglian-based overbow violin, comes a collaborative album with a difference. Cannell has brought together a rather spectacular group of women, sending out the call from Snape Maltings in Suffolk, where she wrote six tracks during the Festival of New in 2022. She sent them across the world to a selection of carefully selected musicians out there: in Seattle, Lori Goldston, cellist with amongst many others Nirvana; in Dublin, Kate Ellis, artistic director of new music collective Crash Ensemble; and in the UK, Northumbrian smallpipes legend Kathryn Tickell, Nik Colk Void (Factory Floor and Carter Tutti Void); Rakhi Singh, music director of Manchester Collective; and Gazelle Twin. The only track recorded at Snape is Cannell’s performance with Tickell, ‘Social Interactions’. The rest became starting points, performed by their recipients in their own locations, remixed or combined with Cannell’s own violin. The result is an album that Cannell describes as being of “no fixed genre”, which combines electronic, classical, folk and “medieval” to generate a flow of sound beamed from afar onto the banks of the River Alde.

The music on Echolocation is tied together by a powerful sense of landscape and place. It is meditative and thoughtful, often drifting into a dreamlike state. On Gazelle Twin and Laura Cannell’s ‘Moving Through Mist’ for example, distant chants rise over a low swell of wandering electronics. The two musicians meet in the middle in a place that they can both feel deeply. ‘Altitudes’ with Lori Goldston and Laura Cannell has cello and violin responding to one another with the unpredictability of a live performance, expressive and highly creative. Nik Colk Void’s remix of ‘Closer to Heaven’ filters her irrepressible beat-making through a hallucinogenic filter, lurching through the tall Suffolk grass, tripping like mad.’ ‘Here and Now Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’, with Kate Ellis, are resonant contemporary classical pieces with one foot in the Renaissance. ‘Zahira’ with Rakhi Singh uses wordless jazzy vocals and sounds like a Bond theme left out in the sun until it warps irretrievably.

Echolocation is a seriously involving record. Cannell not only knows some fascinating musicians, she understands how to connect with them and bring them into her world. It is impressive to hear how a musician so deeply connected to the places she writes about can draw others into her world, which might seem internalised and closed off. Her work speaks to a diverse set of women with their own highly distinctive sounds and styles. It is a very ambitious project, and it pays off with an album that is delightfully unclassifiable. Cannell succeeds brilliantly in her aim of “offering time and space” to “support women in music”. Arts Council England deserve credit for supporting the project, but it is the originality of Cannell’s music that makes this work by sparking something fresh and fascinating.