Green Dome consists of Zeena Parkins on acoustic harp, Ryan Sawyer on percussion, and Ryan Ross Smith on prepared piano, electronics, and modular synth. Thinking in Stitches is comprised of eleven tracks that are based on sets of rules that transform Shetland Lace knitting patterns into music.
Parkins is a veteran of avant-leaning musics, often making use of her specially-built electric harps (seeing her extract sounds from one of these devices live is quite the treat). But here, she sticks to the acoustic, while Smith takes up the weirder sounds that would normally be Parkins’ domain. Though constrained to the conventional instrument, her approach is anything but, featuring runs and flourishes amongst other sounds and textures. Smith invokes the modular synth to lay down backing tracks of organic burblings, and also contributes haphazard effects. His piano, however, is tuned to an unusually metallic palette. Sawyer contributes angular rhythms and stop/start forays – indeed, his ability to provide unpredictable beat patterns is one of the most compelling aspects of the album.
The trio covers a fair amount of ground, from the haunting and melancholic to animated post-industrial inter-locking themes. Each piece involves a degree of structure, the ins and outs of which are explored by all three individuals. And yet, even the tracks with more repetitive sections exhibit sufficient non-systematic elements. Parkins, Sawyer, and Smith remain so busy throughout that Thinking in Stitches frequently comes across with a bigger sound that one would expect, even from a group of this stature.
Don’t let this one slip under the radar. It is an understated effort that punches above its weight.