Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti – Gramercy
Posted In: Frances-Marie Uitti, GARETH DAVIS, Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti - Gramercy, Gramercy, Miasmah, Mohammed Ashraf
Comments: No Responses
Gramercy is an anxiety attack waiting to happen; a languid, seemingly infinite prelude to madness. Every second draws closer the darkest of thoughts, nestled in the furthest corners of the mind with no chance of evading those events, no chances of stopping the terrible from becoming a reality. They say there’s nothing to fear but itself, well think again, for this wait is far worse and it will shake your being.
To the first time listener, the melancholy emanating from Frances-Marie Uitti’s cello on album opener “2 am” – probably the most straight forward track on the album – might seem as dark as it gets. It’s brooding, cold and shapes up as an instantaneous call for attention on the listeners’ behalf. What ensues from then on, however, abandons melody almost completely and focuses entirely on the atonal, using abrupt silences and Gareth Davis’ clarinet drones to maximal effect. What follows is a test to anyone who listens to the album, an exercise in allowing the overpowering sense of despair to conquer one’s thoughts and send listeners to terrains they often avoid treading. An overwhelming urge to recluse from all things material runs deep; that far corner in your room seems like exactly the place to be at the moment.
On viewing the album as a whole, a twisted sense of symmetry begins to reveal itself around the album’s centerpiece and clear highlight “Detour”. Sounds unfurl, with cello and clarinet playing as extremely interesting counterpoints to each other, and dissolve into nothing but distant wails. As we approach the aforementioned “Detour” sounds begin to disappear, the music grows slower, silence prevails. It would be natural for one to expect that this silence will give way to something louder, more tangible, a long awaited resolution to the wait, at least one would hope so, but Davis and Uitti have other plans in mind.
Chaos resumes, reaching its peak, the drones have gotten more abrasive and the notes less and less audible. We ask for reprieve, hell we beg for it! The answer remains a very firm “NO!” and by the end of that extremely solemn, highly ill advised, detour, silence returns. “Razor” shuts one out completely and reasserts what “Cold Call” achieves. We accept our fate and come what may, nothing good can come out of it; we surrender. The music is that intense; it consumes all around it with no need for overdoing anything, a stroke of rarely paralleled genius.
The question that begs to be asked right now is why would anyone put him/herself through all this? Why would someone, after reading this, want that amount this amount of madness? Simply put, because it adds flavor to one’s day, it shakes things up and opens closed caverns in one’s mind. It stirs the thinking in a way that I personally haven’t experienced before through music alone. There will always be a yearning to opt out, press the stop button, pick that needle off the record and take the easy way out, but with music this raw and with a gravitational pull as strong as such, it is nearly impossible. This is a record that has to be played from start to finish, a ride that has to be taken without pit stops and one that ends up enlightening its listener.
Being released through Miasmah, this album takes the label in a somewhat different direction since it might be the most atonal, arrhythmic project to be released by the label so far. Signs of any percussion, or moving forward in anyway aren’t to be found on this hour long record, a sickly beautiful all encompassing stalemate, which makes the prospect of whatever Mr. Skodvin picks next for his label extremely appetising and incredibly hard to predict. Having reviewed five of Miasmah’s last seven releases both here and on the pages of The Silent Ballet, the label doesn’t seem to be backing down any time soon and it might be, or in fact is, the most exciting label in experimental music these days. Some will think it’s an overstatement, but it isn’t. END.
- Mohammed Ashraf for Fluid Radio