Label: One Little Independent Records
Released: 14th May 2021
When you think about violin music, you’re probably picturing stuffy classical orchestras or backwood bluegrass fiddle players accompanied by mandolins and jaw harps. Sarah Neufeld’s album ‘Detritus’ is here to do away with any preconceptions you may have had, redefining violin music into an undeniably modern genre that makes brave strides into new sounds without betraying its classical roots. A long-time member of Arcade Fire, her third solo album sees her tone veer more patiently, with tracks that unfurl and expand like spring flowers into enormous colourful soundscapes.
Images of desolation are painted by the distant whistle of an unforgiving wind to open the album on ‘Stories’, laying the groundwork for the steady, rising tone of the album and its astounding ability to conjure visuals in your mind’s eye. ‘Detritus’ is an exercise in gradually evolving tracks. Often starting with a winding set of violin phrases at the forefront that slowly find company in non-lyrical vocal tones or foreboding drums and steady synths. It creeps up on you until the sound has quadrupled in size.
Sarah’s technical capability doesn’t go masked by these larger productions, though. The likes of ‘The Top’ places the focus square on the violin as the melody jitters precisely, developing into ever more satisfyingly unpredictable, intricate phrases. Even when built into pacier situations in ‘Tumble Down The Undecided’, Neufeld’s violin slots comfortably into the rapid tempo and aggression that the track demands.
There are no limitations in ‘Detritus’. Sarah Neufeld proves that modern violin music is flexible and fully capable of introspection and aggravation alike. This album speaks to a facet of listening that cannot be captured by lyrical music, a direct line to our imaginations that fills the sounds with colours and shapes as we interpret them.