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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Linda Catlin Smith - Dirt Road [Another Timbre - 2016]

Dirt Road offers a collection of 15 untitled tracks for a violin & percussion. Sound wise this is mostly skeletal, stark & minimal fare- bringing to mind either Feldman at his more pared-back, barren & angular, or mournful European string music. This is very much autumnal, or winter music- so the monochrome picture of a empty country road on the front cover seems most apt.

Linda Catlin Smith is  a American composer in Toronto, Canada, and most notable she became only the second woman to win the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music in 2005.  She has been composing work since the 1980’s, and has recorded work for Orchestra, chamber, strings, baroque instruments, piano & vocal.


The fifteen tracks here are played by Mira Benjamin - Canadian violinist, researcher and new-music instigator. And Birmingham  based Simon Limbrick- who has worked all over the world as a  much sort after & respected percussionist. Togeather the pair create a mostly pared-back, stark, yet sometime melodic & always moody sonic universe- that it’s as considered as it is bleakly inviting.

Runtime time wise the tracks fall between two & nine minute mark. Benjamin’s violin work moves from slowly shrill & angular, onto to lonesome & felt, through to mournful & sourly sombre. Limbrick utilizes a mix of considered- to-more- darkly vibrate vibe hits, rustling metal percussion, clunking & bleak gong work, to stark & spaced-out  percussive hits. The pair play together very well, balancing well their own space in the compositions, atmosphere, and mood. At times they play together, then at others apart, or standing alone. Through-out all of the albums length is certainly a more stark feel/ setting to most of the tracks, though that doesn’t mean there isn’t variation- in either of the pairs playing, the pace of the tracks, or the mood.


All in all Dirt Road offers up a rewarding & starkly moody collection of often skeletal modern composition/ sonic minimalism. That is  seemingly primed prefect for misty half-lit days, bone archly cold mornings, and stark autumnal showers.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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