ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona

Spindle Ensemble ‘Inkling’
(Hidden Notes Records) 27th May 2021

As spindly woven as that moniker suggests, the gently stirring and often transportive classical and chamber suites on the ensemble’s second album are diaphanous, elegant and adroitly magical.

Following on from the Bristol quartet’s debut birthed Bea album in 2017, Inkling continues to match a contemporary feel with the timeless and cinematic. Released last year as a double A-side single, with accompanying videos by the acclaimed film makers Fred Reed and Marie Lechevallier, the counterbalance couplet of the dashing quickened ‘Chase’ and more softly mosey Western style ‘Okemah Sundown’ both showcase that filmic soundtrack part. Both of these brilliantly evoked imaginings of the familiar can be found on this sweeping and gracefully composed work of deeply moving set piece reflections and dramas.

Led by composer-pianist Daniel Inzani and featuring percussionist Harriet Riley, cellist Jo Silverston and violinist Caelia Lunnis, the obviously talented, well-read musically, quartet send the listener off into various scenes and landscapes. The latter half of that already mentioned single, named after the small Oklahoma town in which Woodie Guthrie was born (named after a Kickapoo indigenous chief, which also translates as “thing up high”), ‘‘Okemah Sundown’ is the sound of a sayonara Morricone drifting towards a mirage of Oriental tinged Western themes on the Mexican border.  On the enchanted dainty tiptoe ascent up heavens glass staircase opening dream suite title-track, they magic up the evocation of a Hollywood silent film era stage set. 

There’s a permeation of the turn-of-the-century on the Edwardian ballroom sweep ‘Waves’, which features that silent film age soundtrack way of signaling a change in mood or the danger of something: perhaps distrust, the signal that there is something clandestine going on. Not quite the moustache twirling stereotype, but something altogether subtler, deeper.

Bonus track ‘Menilmontant’ goes even further, referencing both the outer Parisian ‘arrondisement’ of the title and the 1926 Dimitri Kirsanoff film. There’s plenty of Satie influence amongst nocturnal flits, dashes and spirals on that meadow roll into the secret garden.

Imbued by the sensibilities of not just Satie but a litany of other greats (Pärt, Ravel, Reich, Glass, right up to the Penguin Café Orchestra) the Spindle Ensemble dance on the edges of classicism and the experimental: never once losing the melodious and serene thread. It’s a journey that despite the pauses, swells and changes keeps up a constant flow of beautifully and moody fluctuated imaginative musicality; fit for stage, cinema screens and beyond. Inkling can be captivating, quaint, dreamy, light and soft-footed affair, but always grandiose in its craft for stimulating new experimental classical music visions.  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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