A muscular album of improvised "fiddling" from St. Louis violinist Alex Cunningham, five works of assertive playing based on recurring and evolving figures, often rapid string patterns that show Cunningham's skill and stamina on the instrument, interspersed with quirky expressions and extraneous instrumental sound that keep his listeners on edge and captivated.
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Label: Storm Cellar
Catalog ID: SC001
Squidco Product Code: 30054
Recorded at Bird Cloud Recording Studio, in Edwardsville, Illinois, by Ryan Wasoba.
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• Show Bio for Alex Cunningham
"Alex Cunningham is a violinist, improviser, and visual artist based in St. Louis, MO. His work explores free improvisation, drone, noise, and minimalist composition. Cunningham has recently performed with Mark Shippy, Sandy Ewen, Damon Smith, Stefan Gonzalez, and Lisa Cameron and has ongoing collaborations with Chris Trull (under the Apathist! moniker), Kevin Harris, and Claire Rousay. Past collaborations include the groups Vernacular String Trio, Hess/Cunningham Duo, and Hardbody. Cunningham has released music on Close/Far Recordings, Personal Archives, Already Dead Tapes and Records, Fort Evil Fruit, and Astral Spirits.
Cunningham's collage work has appeared on various album covers and concert posters. He was named St. Louis' "Best Concert Poster Designer" by the Riverfront Times in 2015. His visual work has shown at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, Resident Arts, Blank Space, and the Thomas Dunn Learning Center and has been featured on bus stops in St. Louis as part of St. Louis Metro's "Arts in Transit" initiative. "-Alex Cunningham Website (https://www.alexcunninghamviolin.com/about)
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1. Echo's Bones Were Turned to Stone 06:10
2. Plain Sight 08:32
1. Coping 07:36
2. The Same Sun Shines in a Land That's Not Mine 05:24
3. Comfort in Ritual 01:53
sample the album:
"One of the countless reasons that freely improvised music is so exciting is the near-limitless possibilities that extended techniques open up in the hands (or other body parts) of skilled artists. Standard musical instruments once viewed as innocuous, constrained tools become sources for untamed sonic energy. There's an online review of Derek Bailey's Aida by Rate Your Music user ac_church that puts it well (I'm pretty sure I've quoted it here before): "it's strange to find yourself in a same room with a guitar after you've listened to Derek Bailey... it suddenly becomes an incredible alien artifact of immense power... 'you really could do all that? how come I didn't know?' "
Alex Cunningham is no stranger to escaping the restraints of a conventional approach; his nimble, abrasive violin assaults instantly drew me in when I first heard Fiddle back in 2018. But as the title track on that release—produced using the self-imposed constraint of "improvise a fiddle tune"—makes clear, Cunningham also owes a great deal of reverence and love to the traditional music to which his instrument of choice is essential. His most recent release Echo's Bones Were Turned to Stone continues in the direction of last year's Knell on Fort Evil Fruit with a set of extended dynamic pieces. As always, we not only hear the deep, dense drones Cunningham coaxes from the violin but also the resin-shredding strength of the bowing that produces them, the mesmerizing swirl of cascading string slides and ersatz chords, the moments of invigorating Appalachian fiddle stomp (however brief or abstract). The St. Louis String Sawer's latest is a jagged, harrowing, and triumphant exclamation from the dark depths of isolation."-Jack Davidson, noisenotmusic.com
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