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THE FRETLESS - Birdís Nest

THE FRETLESS - Birdís Nest
Private Label TFCD003

Musically exploratory Canadian string quartet, The Fretless, comprise Karrnnel Sawitsky, Trent Freeman, and Ivonne Hernandez (since replaced by Ben Plotnick), each on fiddle and viola, with Eric Wright (cello). This third release, following debut Waterbound (2012) and The Fretless (2014), presents self composed and rearranged traditional material, mainly set structured, keenly influenced by their several and expansive wider individual influences.

Familiar with one another from appearances at fiddle contests across Canada, the group’s collective intent since forming has been to expand and develop traditional folk musical material, within the string quartet form, in technically challenging ways to create a lively energetic instrumental music that draws innovatively, too, on its members’ interests in classical, rock, jazz, dubstep and other music.

The forged fusion of multiple elements is all audible here. In a progressive music that often has recognisable stems in Celtic jigs, jazz and other modern music, influences are widely evident creating compositions of abundant interest and appeal in their textural variety and colouring. Essentially melodic and richly rhythmic, the crossover interplay comes from intricate and astute layering and cleverly woven combinations. Often chunkily hefty and pulsing, sometimes jagged, boldly bowed, bassy cello lines serving as underpinning for supplely sinuous and soaring viola and fiddle lines are typical of how all this plays out in their sophisticated arrangements.

Insightful explanatory accounts of inspiration for the tracks appear (as I found by chance) as sequential postings on their facebook presence and show the influence of mondial travel and natural phenomena on their exacting and exciting contemporary music.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.