AMN Reviews: Andrew Tholl, Corey Fogel & Devin Hoff – Conditional Tension [Populist Records PR010]

Conditional Tension is an apt name for these two long improvisations for acoustic and amplified violin (Andrew Tholl); double bass and electric bass (Devin Hoff); and percussion (Corey Fogel). The first piece, for the acoustic instruments, is an essay in sound construction founded largely on the timbral overlap and divergence of the two string instruments. Both Tholl and Hoff explore different bowings and fingerings to pull extreme sounds from their instruments, often from the higher and lower reaches of their registers. The piece plays as well with textural variations, with dense microtonal drones giving way to an audio space sparsely populated by staccato attacks of pizzicato bass or Fogel’s percussion. As Tholl, Hoff and Fogel play it, dynamics are the other side of density, thickening and thinning textures bringing with them changes in volume and corresponding tightening and slackening of tensions. The second improvisation, for amplified violin, electric bass and percussion, is a more aggressive assault into denser, louder territory.

Daniel Barbiero