Aquarelle – Leave Corners

Aquarelle (Ryan Potts) is a navigator of deep, introspective sound. His most recent case deals with the murky, film-noir mythos of modern classical music and its entangling amongst dangerous levels of distortion and feedback. Leave Corners is his fourth full-length LP. This time around, Potts has chosen to sideline his guitar, instead focusing on and favouring other stringed instruments while exploring their relationship with the dissonance of distortion.

After the spacious, slow awakening of ‘Open Absence Pt. 1’, where elongated notes and outstretched seconds of silence are introduced and are then interwoven with a spreading, fuzzy moss of distortion, the music settles quickly and the heavier tones lie like resolute anchors within an overarching drone. The second part dives deeper still, naturally seguing from part one to part two, expanding upon the texture while adding a muffled percussive element. The strings paint a thicker tone (and a couple of baby-sized phrases can be found within it) while the sound above blossoms into a cyclical drone. Even as it spins in the ether, it’s occasionally scarred by the abrasive sound of distortion, but that doesn’t affect the music or its trajectory.

‘Cut Stone’ is a laser-like drone with precise incisions, providing a heat strong enough to melt metal. The brighter bells of ‘Brass Logic’ are soon obscured by a cello’s deeper register as her all-consuming resonance shadows the lighter notes, turning them another shade of grey. While this happens, apparitions of white noise appear on the disturbed horizon, like an unsettled mirage. A queasy melody hangs like a loose, unbalanced locket around the throat, and it isn’t long before the distortion blows everything away with its swelling dynamite. Things are breaking. When the distortion enters, you may think that the rest is a one-way ticket, but you’d be wrong: the cello’s melody overcomes the fanged teeth, shutting it behind a hastily-nailed door. The distortion doesn’t last for long, but it always hangs around, tagging the streets with its dark thoughts and biding its time before striking once more, like Michael Myers on Halloween.

The bobbing frequencies overlap and make contact on ‘The Horse Has Run’, undulating on a largely-serene sea, but Leave Corners is an unpredictable album and its sharp edges compete fiercely with the smoother strings. While the cello’s sound can become gritty, it’s still smoother and more humane than distortion, and it ultimately wins.

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