Obscure Atlas is a new release performed by Trio Basilova Fridman Napolov featuring Helena Basilova, Konstantyn Napolov, and Maya Fridman. It features the ensemble performing works by Aart Strootman and Daniel Wohl. This is something you really don’t want to miss.
The members of Trio Basilova Fridman Napolov were drawn to each other by their mutual passion for new music and by the endless search for new colors and sounds. In 2018 they formed this exciting and unique ensemble. The musicians work closely together with composers of today, creating new compositions and broadening the boundaries of existing repertoire which is quite limited for their setting.
The album was recorded at Tivoli Vredenburg in the legendary Grote Zaal (big hall), and recorded using TRPTK’s high-end recording techniques, both in stereo as well as super-immersive surround sound. In the Surround Sound edition of the album, you have the ensemble around you. Although the recording was done semi-live in just one day, the special stereo and surround mixes took more than 10 days to fully perfect.
TRPTK is “extremely stoked” to share this album with you. They encourage listeners to buy it in DXD or DSD 256 Stereo or Super-Immersive Multichannel Surround Sound.
Trio Basilova Fridman Napolov
Helen Basilova – Piano
Maya Fridman – Cello
Konstantyn Napolov – Percussion
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Total time: 00:29:02
|Original Recording Format|
|Type of purchase|
Complete Album Purchase, Sample Track Purchase (free of charge)
|Release Date||February 18, 2021|
Both the composers, Aart Strootman and Daniel Wohl, and the performers, pianist Helena Basilova, cellist Maya Fridman, and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov, benefit from TRPTK’s presentation of Obscure Atlas; the elaborate treatment is especially noteworthy given that the release is a twenty-nine-minute EP. As with its full-length releases, the label has housed the CD within an attractive three-panel digipack and included with it an eight-page booklet. As a result, the physical release of Obscure Atlas is as much art object as musical recording.
It’s also the debut release from the Basilova | Fridman | Napolov collective, which formed in 2018 with the express purpose of performing new works by innovative composers. Recorded on July 23rd, 2020, the pieces by Strootman and Wohl, Obscure Atlas CT-3 and Microscope respectively, certainly qualify. For his seven-part creation, the former found inspiration in an event that took place on Russian soil in 1970, specifically hole drilling whose lowest point CT-3 was reached in 1994 at 12,262 metres. Along with the valuable scientific and geophysical information that accrued from the exercise, urban myths developed, one of them suggesting the Gates of Hell had been opened because of the project. The contention that disembodied cries and the smell of sulfur were emanating from the site was all that was needed to convince some of the veracity of the claim. Strootman’s goal in his piece was to explore what that might sound like and used the sound possibilities of the trio to do so.
One of the primary pleasures of his piece is hearing how imaginatively and resourcefully the trio’s acoustic timbres are used to create a cryptic ambiance. The musicians vividly establish the character of the piece with careful consideration of pacing, dynamics, and texture. As mystery and wonder are conjured by vibraphone and piano, the cello’s pitch-shifted bowing suggests the moaning of a newly awakened spirit. Melody is deemphasized for mood, the focus on using instrument sounds to generate atmosphere and drama (though the recording of a Russian voice does appear within the fifth part, “Troposphere”). The intensity level increases in “Crust,” which features a heavy snare-driven pulse and Fridman accompanying her mournful cello expressions with wordless vocalizing. Whereas another composer might have opted for hyperbolic gestures and high volume, Strootman admirably chose understatement and nuance.
For his piece, Wohl turned his attention to the properties of sound, specifically the way amplification can render audible sounds that would otherwise verge on inaudibility. To that end, he used cello harmonics, prepared piano, and an elaborate percussion set-up including vibraphone, glockenspiel, kick drum, and even an old-fashioned metal fan. In this realization of Microscope, the instruments are played quietly yet are heavily amplified too; further to that, the acoustic timbres of the trio are augmented by a pre-recorded electronic component featuring sounds such as the rustling of paper, the hum of electrical circuits, and so on. The ten-minute tapestry presents a clear arc that sees an animated introduction of interlocking patterns settle into a slightly less insistent episode featuring pounding drums and lulling cello statements. As the percussion drops out, an ambient swirl takes its place, the cello the element persisting through the changes to the backdrop. Eventually the piece wends its way back to where it started to resolve in an elegant coda. Just as the performers and composers benefit from TRPTK’s presentation, so too do they benefit from each other: Strootman and Wohl from the care with which their works are rendered into physical form; and Basilova, Fridman, and Napolov in being provided such distinctive material to work with for their debut outing.
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