Processions by Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason furthers Bedroom Community’ reputation for championing the uncompromisingly original, and the label’s eclectic tastes. His music, pitched somewhere between the label’ “other classical composer’ Nico Muhly and the violent collages of Ben Frost, explores contemporary composition from a distinctly post-electronic position.
The aptly-titled “Bow to String’ for multi-tracked cello, written for cellist SÃ¦unn Orsteinsdo, explores the many forms this titular technique can take, and the sonic effects it can achieve. Opening movement “Sorrow Conquers Happiness’ is fuelled by a restless percussive attack, marshalling the jagged canons of Lithuanian super-minimalist Rytis Mazulis, and peppered with brief Baroque interludes by way of Michael Nyman. The final two slow movements underline the opening movement’s thesis, calling for bowing so painfully restrained it stammers with sorrow.
The title work is Bjarnason’ second piano concerto for pianist VÃkingur Ã“lafsson and offers a compelling discourse between contemporary experimentation and traditional structure. After a clipped, explosive opening, “In Medias Res’ settles into orthodox concerto form, that of a bloated late romanticism on overdrive, before gauging the exits. Wind and strings trail and support the piano’ whims, which mix florid Brahms-ian virtuosity with schizophrenic incongruities. The piece slips into an orbit of sorts in “Spindrift’, and by the final “Red-Handed’ it teeters crazily off its axis, as instrumental groupings loop and slide, impersonating delay and phasing effects before collapsing in burnout. The final “Skelja’ for harp and percussion offers calm respite, remaining pleasantly impressionistic despite spiky runs and large melodic leaps.