It’s possible that within the acoustic instrument kingdom, the cello is uniquely suited to ambient music. While it can be played with fiery fervor, its sad and throaty tone really comes alive when played with patience, long draws of the bow coaxing out beautifully mournful sighs that drill into a listener’s heart. These sighs translate perfectly to an ambient pad structure; layer them and add touches of electronic texture and you’ve got Astoria, the new release from The OO-Ray. Ted Laderas began the pieces here as improvisations on the cello, then went back and fleshed them out with looping, pitch-shifting and distortion. The pieces range from ambient drifts like the raspy “Autumn” and the softer-edged drones of “Gwageus” to neo-classical infusions like “Palimpsest.” Throughout, the pieces are thoughtful and emotionally dense. The somber tones of “Andalusia” contrast with the somewhat familiar gypsy-dance melody that Laderas slowly metes out.”Waveguide” puts me in immediate mind of Gorecki with its heart-wrenching cello line and minimalist approach. Laderas accents this lazy drift with resonating, hard-struck chords. “Marzo” stands out for its comparatively upbeat tone, Laderas flicking his strings in a pizzicato percussion. A clockwork beat rounds out the sound. The draw here, as with most electro-acoustic ambient, is how well the too-human organics mesh with the electronics, the rough against the smooth. Laderas pulls it all off nicely, creating sound-sketches of feelings that we want to look deeply into, and which we understand at a gut level.
Available from Audiomoves.