With this collection of improvisation for solo double bass, Ryan McGuire—whose eclectic resume includes being the creative force behind the avant metal band Ehnahre—puts his own stamp on the contemporary tone poem.
Many of the economically-scaled pieces included here introduce and develop an idea that serves to evoke the image captured by the title. Ravens, for example, creates an abstract impression of the birds with its swooping arco melody played against an occasional open-string counterpoint, gradually dissolving into noise. Similarly, the harp-like arpeggios and harmonics of Delicate Creatures 1 and 2 sketch a sound portrait of something at once brittle and refined.
Beyond their evocative qualities, the performances are notable for being well-constructed and drawing on the double bass’s sonic versatility. Often favoring a grainy, almost tactile sound, McGuire makes good use of expressive phrasing, chording and countermelodies as well as extended techniques. The bass is vividly recorded, making audible such sonically rich details as the scrape of bowhair on the strings or the deep, rough-edged rattle of the freely sounding, open lower strings.