Hypnagogue Music Reviews

Aaron Martin & Christoph Berg: Day Has Ended

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Although Day Has Ended is a split release between artists Aaron Martin and Christoph Berg, the two halves flow so seamlessly together that it seems a single cohesive thing. Both artists fall under the modern composition category, their work in both halves of this release carrying an intimate chamber music feel. Rich strings and melancholic piano draw vivid sonic images as the duo describe the course of a day–a theme that, in the long run, is secondary to the introspective beauty of these eight songs. Martin takes the first four pieces, with a focus on strings, from the first shiny guitar notes of “Slow Wake” to the crisp, unexpected twang of banjo in “Burl.” A noted cellist, Martin works those sonorous strings into the mix as well, a steady dramatic voice underscoring the complex interweaving of sounds going on around it. Martin takes another turn in using choral voices to open “Comfort of Shadow.” These give way to a deep, resonant bass drone on cello. Higher strings slowly work into the flow, bringing some potent emotion with them. Berg’s section begins quietly with “Pillows,” carrying the raspy, organic quality of Martin’s bow-work but infusing it with a more spread-out sparseness. “Today has Been Alright” manages, in its slowness and repeated phrasing, to capture a sort of hesitant musical shrug of acceptance; its edge of sadness is tempered by its brighter tone. Overall, Berg’s four pieces are less angular, more couched in quiet than Martin’s. The emotional level is certainly equal, but the approach, perhaps in trying to convey the sense of the latter half of the day, feels less sharp. “Coda” brings the release to a lovely close, offering in its structure a hint of a post-rock ballad. It sways just slightly, lush strings making a floaty bed for piano. There’s also an underscored air of optimism, perhaps the sense that this day was a bit more than alright after all and tomorrow’s coming.

Day Has Ended is a quick hit, just over half an hour, but it lands with considerable emotional force. Both composers speak in confident voices through their music and the fact that the release glides so easily from one artist to the next plays up their simpatico approaches. The intimacy and rich organic feel of the compositions, sometimes nicely raw in spots courtesy of the strings, has had me coming gladly back for repeat listens. This is a wonderful end-of-day listen (go figure) and a release you must hear.

Available from Dronarivm.

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