Cranc: All Angels

A fine album of free improvisation featuring three gifted string players. Rhodri Davies, on harp, is joined by his sister Angharad on violin and Nikos Veliotis on cello. This is intricate, beautifully sculpted music, shaped by the sinuous interplay between the three musicians. Although there are fleeting passages of lyricism, the dominant mood is one of tumultuous energy.

The recording is divided into six tracks, but functions effectively as a continuous whole. The line-up is innovative; with no anchoring bass sound, the trio are free to mesh together as a cohesive unit. There is little time for individual pyrotechnics – the focus is on fierce ensemble playing, with the different string sounds resonating powerfully in the church where the session was recorded and which gives the album its name.

The range of timbres that the players extract from their instruments is startling. Deep, bowed rumbles give way to scurrying pizzicato runs. The violin sings tremulously before erupting into angry dissonance. The harp is bowed as well as plucked, and is not employed to produce the kind of celestial tinklings usually associated with the instrument. Instead it joins the violin and cello in a conversation whose freshness and animation never let up over the course of the disc.

There’s a pleasing internationalism about this release. Although Rhodri Davies is a well known presence in the London free improv scene, he and his sister are both Welsh, and Veliotis is Greek, as is the record label. The excellent booklet has sleevenotes by Steve Beresford and full credits printed in English, Welsh and Greek alongside Michalis Vamvakaris’ haunting artwork.

(Originally published in The Sound Projector 11, 2003)

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