Dance Music Volume II: More Songs For Slow Motion by Joshua Van Tessel

Release date: September 11, 2020
Label: Backward Music

Ok, you wanted inventive and hauntingly beautiful at the same time? Well, here it is – Joshua Van Tassel’s Dance Music Volume II: More Songs For Slow Motion. “There’s a lot of really ugly shit happening in the world,” says the Toronto composer, “and I wanted to make a really beautiful album.” And he just goes and does exactly that.

Why inventive? You can start by answering another question – when was the last time you heard Ondes Martenot?  Aha, a tricky one! Actually, that is an elegantly intricate, deliberately complicated hand-built machine that lives with the theremin as one of the world’s earliest electronic instruments (c.1928). Its inventor, the cellist Maurice Martenot, was a radio operator in WWI and wanted to duplicate the accidental overlaps of tones between radio oscillators, but with the expressiveness and emotion of cello.

 

But such new or re-discovered instruments can turn out to be just simple gimmicks if you neither know how to handle them properly, or you don’t really have a clear idea what you want to do with them.

No such case with van Tassel. By the evidence presented on this album, he seems to have a true sense of what tone and color mean in music – he is able to weave Ondes Martenot into the sounds produced by the ‘standard’ instruments and sounds he plays and uses (piano, vibraphone, field recordings, electronics) as well as the sounds of The Venuti String Quartet.

What this combination produces is music that is not just beautiful, but strikingly beautiful, straddling, modern classical, ambient, post-rock, or at least a few more genres that will crop up after repeated listening, and Joshua van Tassel’s Dance Music Volume II: More Songs For Slow Motion is that type of an album that you just keep on pressing the repeat button on and on. Particularly very, very late at night.

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