AMN Reviews: Steve Ashby & Vicki Hallett – The Shore Sang of Ghosts [Bandcamp]

Back in 2017, Richmond guitarist, composer and sound artist Steve Ashby met Australian clarinetist, composer and sound artist Vicki Hallett when both were participating in a field recording residency in South Africa. The encounter bore fruit in the form of their collaborative work The Shore Sang of Ghosts, an album the two created by exchanging files literally from opposite ends of the globe. The physical distance between them may have been great, but musically Ashby and Hallett show themselves to be in close proximity.

All four tracks on the album are heavily atmospheric. In fact, they represent four developments and elaborations of a single, fundamentally introspective mood. On all of them Ashby’s bracingly clear and clean guitar floats over a timelessly oscillating electronic ground drenched in resonant effects, while Hallett brings similarly ethereal lines on flute, clarinet and bass clarinet to add alternately bright and dark colors to the fore of the mix. Ashby and Hallett’s melodies are independent of each other yet complementary, giving good evidence of a shared sensibility undiminished by thousands of miles of separation.

Overall, the music brings to mind the image of cumulus clouds drifting and mutating slowly overhead. But as the low frequency undertow becomes more salient and the textures thicken as the album progresses, one can imagine a different, darker set of clouds piling up just on the horizon.

Daniel Barbiero

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