To say Mariel Roberts is a good cello player is like saying your smartphone makes good calls; the statement is true but ignores the capabilities and implications of what's before you. Plus, smartphones don't make good calls. Anyway.
The cello 'n' 'lectrontics pieces (Andy Akiho's Three Shades, Foreshadows) are on equal footing with extended technique pieces (the way the hand brushes the strings, rubbing out Alex Mineck's Flutter involves a level of voyeurism that borders on the suspect. Should we really be listening on a moment so intimate?) as they are with the dramatic let's-play-this-thing, big bow-work numbers (like Daniel Wohl's visceral Saint Arc) .
Here is an excerpt of Roberts laying into Sean Friar's neo-Romantic fever-dream Teaser, a selection on the disc.
Tristan Perich's Formations is where the whole thing opens like a thousand flowers blooming. The cello meets an Einstein at the Beach grade swarm of electronic harpsichord bleeps. The composer programs his own microchips to make these pieces; perhaps the most artisan way to do electroacoustic music. One is led to say this hand-wiring gives what could be a minimalist migraine inducer its warmth, its Mesmer gaze, but Roberts is also tending the hearth with her bow, her cello a rider on the subway, a voice in a crowd, a gear in the clockwork of the world.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com