Kamancello
Kamancello


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Newton USER (49 Reviews)
December 7th, 2017 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An artistic tour de force for both its creators, Kamancello's often stunning beauty belies its improvised nature.

There is something inherently difficult about critiquing Kamancello from a musical standpoint. It is an album created, and forever existing, in a moment – a product of human connection under circumstances that can never be precisely recreated. Between the cello of Raphael Weinroth-Browne and the kamanche of Shahriyar Jamshidi, this relationship is explored over the course of forty-seven minutes consisting entirely of improvisation. Kamancello offers a chance for the super-duo (Jamshidi having performed worldwide since 1990, while Weinroth-Browne has more recently risen to prominence) to showcase not only their individual skills, but more importantly, their personality as a combined musical entity. The resulting six tracks ride each musician’s strengths, expose his comforts and apprehensions, and serve to remind the listener why music is the ultimate language of the soul. In a setting both intimate and exposing, Kamancello sees a master artist and a rising star challenge each other to create something out of thin air with breathtaking results.

The movements on Kamancello are titled according to a single word that describes each piece. “Incantation” starts off subtly as Weinroth-Browne explores an ominous minor-key motif in the cello’s lowest register. Jamshidi enters two octaves above with a simple refrain, and in repeating it, passes the baton back to his partner. The cello rises and flutters through a delicate recapitulation of the new part, and builds upon it by expanding the dynamic range and introducing a rapid glissando. In this early stage, each musician seems to be searching the other for clues, though Jamshidi soon seizes the initiative and fashions a striking melody near the three-minute mark. The hallmarks of his style begin to emerge by the song’s midpoint: mellifluious leading melodies that gain energy as they evolve, broken into short bursts to adapt quickly to change. The kamache’s nasal tone separates easily from the smoother sound of the cello, allowing them to cross notes without blending. By the time Jamshidi has a chance to repeat his new melody, Raphael has composed not only a counterpart to it, but a double-stop chord progression that elevates the entire piece’s energy. And yet, as he emerges into a fleet arpeggio, his challenge is met with a revived form of Jamshidi’s original motif, driving the song to its climax.

The concepts alluded to in the song titles are often reflected in the compositions, though there are credible cases for either having come first. In “Serpentine,” the second cut of the album, Weinroth-Browne introduces percussive effects that give the song a unique flavor. Shortly before the midway point, the two instruments break into a call-and-response section built on major-second intervals, a trait often found in Indian music; the resulting “snake charmer” motif is almost certainly the inspiration for the song’s title. This change, like many throughout the album, seems to come organically: one musician introduces an idea and the other builds upon it, giving many of the pieces a theme-and-variation structure. In “Ascent,” the album’s closing song, these shifts seem to happen without prior notice, as if one musician is almost subliminaly cuing the other, and the song moves forward in a train-of-thought manner. While this programmatic song structure forms the basis of most of the album, “Radiance,” the album’s most ebullient track, returns a number of times to established motifs as it winds its way to an uplifting conclusion.

For an album that was written as it happened, the amount of memorable material and riffs throughout Kamancello is striking – the nine-note kamanche lead in “Radiance” comes to mind most prominently in this category. Not every piece is anthemic, of course, nor should it be in a free-flowing collection of music. The dueling melodies of “Confrontation” live up to the song’s title as Weinroth-Browne and Jamshidi spend most of the song’s six minutes challenging each other with increasingly daring melodies, lying in wait for a chance to usurp the other rather than working together as on “Incantation” or album closer “Ascent.” This range of improvisational styles speaks to the camaraderie between the two musicians as well as their virtuosity. While the cello and kamanche are perfectly capable of carrying the proceedings on their own, the album’s most sublime moments occur when disparate parts join together in surprising harmony.

Several videos of the album’s recordings, beautifully filmed at Union Sound Company in Toronto, attest to the authenticity of Kamancello, as well as bringing a new level of intrigue. Seeing the musicians trade visual cues illuminates how certain moments came together: Weinroth-Browne’s lowered head is a sure sign of imminent fireworks, while Jamshidi’s unwavering gaze reminds one of a superior athlete’s meditative state. Despite the determined appearance of both musicians, the album’s overall impact is joyful and without fear. In fact, as “Ascent” fades to black, Kamancello reveals an impact difficult to find in modern music: even after traversing so much musical and emotional terrain, I left this album feeling thoroughly refreshed. If that’s not a sign that Raphael Weinroth-Browne and Shahriyar Jamshidi have created something truly worthwhile, then I’m not sure what is.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
4.3
superb


Comments:Add a Comment 
pedro70512
December 6th 2017


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album available on Bandcamp (kamancello.bandcamp.com) and the band's official site (kamancello.com).

Live video of "Radiance": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFsPW9XbMEY

As always, thoughts and feedback always appreciated.

Asdfp277
December 7th 2017


18131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is very stunning, so evocative ! pos



Asdfp277
December 7th 2017


18131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i don't think this qualifies as classical but it's giving me everything i wished classical would provide me!

Evok
December 7th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ooo lovely. I really want to hear this.

Digging: Allah Las - Allah Las

Sevengill
December 7th 2017


8441 Comments


It's somewhere between classical, world, and avant-garde. Or something. Whatever it is, it's really cool.

Evok
December 10th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bump because the few tracks I've heard off this blew my mind

Asdfp277
December 10th 2017


18131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"radiance" is amazing, bump of swag

Evok
December 18th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album deserves a lot more recognition than its getting around here

SCREAM!
December 18th 2017


15501 Comments


Keep meaning to check this out and forgetting

Raphael's other projects (Musk Ox, The Visit) have both been stellar and I have very high hopes for this

Sevengill
December 18th 2017


8441 Comments


this is probably my non-metal album of the year. because you know how far I am down that rabbit hole at the moment.

Evok
December 18th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is good for rabbit holes agreed

Evok
December 18th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That climax on Radiance is breathtaking

Aiwaz
December 18th 2017


9522 Comments


Is this pretty good evo?

Digging: Drain STH - Freaks Of Nature

Asdfp277
December 18th 2017


18131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sucks

Aiwaz
December 18th 2017


9522 Comments


I was asking someone whose pie chart doesn't look like an autistic clown cookie, thanks anyways Asdfp.

Asdfp277
December 18th 2017


18131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

at least i have a pie chart



:^)

BlackMalachite
December 19th 2017


3318 Comments


I need to check this out. Pos

Digging: Dead Girls Academy - Alchemy

Evok
December 19th 2017


7200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah Awiaz this is next level amazing. It's the zen of off-the-cuff musicial expression perfectly captured by two incredible musicians. I think you'd love it.

Sevengill
March 30th 2018


8441 Comments


reminder that this exists and is fantastic.



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