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Adrián Demoč - Hlaholika [Another Timbre - 2021]

Hlaholika is a collection of four contemporary chamber works from up & coming Slovak composer Adrián Demoč. The album balances elegant forlornness, fraught unease, with moments of felt emotion and simmering moodiness- all making for a release that sucks you in & bleakly enchants.

The CD appears on Another Timbre- coming in their house style mini white gatefold- on its front cover is a picture of an ancient stone tablet engraved with Glagolitic script, which is the oldest known Slavic alphabet- this adds a rather archaic and cryptic edge to the release.

Going from the discog listing Demoč has been active since 2010, only releasing three releases thus far, and this is the second release to appear on Another Timbre, the first being 2019’s Žiadba. His take on composing is gently paced, at points angular & fraught, though equally, he utilizes haunting & emotional melody.

The four pieces here each run between seven and nineteen-minute mark- with a total release runtime of fifty-five minutes. The album opens with 2019’s "Ma fin est mon commencement "- here we find a mixture slowly tolling piano notation, grimly rousing clarinet pipes, and bleakly swooning Viola. Together these create an uncertain sort of darting march- which sits somewhere between bitter & sweet.

Next, we have  2007’s "Lešenie k zahĺbeniu"– this is the shortest track here at seven minutes.  It’s a very horn focused work bringing together flute, bass clarinet, alto sax, bassoon, horn & percussion.  The tone here is both waveringly piping and uncertainly droning- with the while thing have an effective stop, start & simmer, then dart structure.

Track number three is the nearing twenty-minute title track which was composed in 2020- it's built around a blend of Viola, piano, double bass and clarinet. Here we find felt and emotional piano rolls, meeting angularly swooning- at-point malevolent horn dwells- all creating a feeling of corrupted or decayed beauty. It’s a great centrepiece to the album and my favourite moment here.

Finally, we have   2019’s “…mit Simon und Jürg (und Philip ist auch…) “ this is split into two tracks and is for Violin and double bass. The work is built around  a series of barren hovers and sparsely grim simmers- these sometimes join, or just pass by each other in their often dragged out, at points serrated ringing manner. With the whole thing finishing with a wavering, almost harmonic marching quality- that is both oddly moving & off-kilter.  It’s an effective barren-yet- subtly seared end to the album.

As a release, Hlaholika shows Demoč carving out his own distinctive sound that sits half in angularity/ unease, and half in emotion/ harmony- so I was rather taken by the CD. This is part of Another Timbre first batch of releases for 2021, and if this any indication of the quality/creativity we can expect from the label we're in for one hell of a year from the label.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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