Threnody Ensemble – Timbre Hollow

One of the nicest things about reviewing music is that you sometimes encounter music from scenes or styles you’re not familiar with and of which you don’t have a clue what to expect, but which turns out to be brilliant. This is certainly true in the case of the Threnody Ensemble. As the bandname already suggest, we are dealing with a classical formation here. But not an ordinary one. “Imagine the best parts of Radiohead played by a chamber orchestra. Threnody Ensemble are, in equal measure, an experimental rock band and an avant classical outfit”, can be read in the press sheet that accompanies the cd. Now may this description perhaps sound a bit difficult. But in fact I find the music of this Ensemble quite accessible and pleasing to the ear. The band consists mainly of three musicians: Dave Cerf and Erik Hoversten, both on guitar, and Dominique Davison on cello. They are enforced by over half a dozen of guest musicians, on instruments like piano, clarinet and percussion. Together they create a very special form of chamber music.

The instrumental music on the six long tracks on this album is quite varied. Intimate and minimal passages are alternated with a fuller orchestral sound. Often the mood is slightly melancholic, and the sound is quite cinematic and atmospheric. Many surprises are to be find within the unconventional song structures. To give an example, track 2 suddenly incorporates a fragment of exotic bossanova. And there are a few more occasions when you think of non-western influences, though never very obvious.

Though the compositions are not very standard, sounding improvised at times, they remain rather fluid, even melodic, perhaps due to the rock influences. Especially the warm and pleasing sounds of strings and acoustic guitars give this album its special appeal. I have listened to “Timbre Hollow” quite often now and it keeps surprising me. Not an album which you can easily put a label on, with its mixture of classical, avantgarde and rock elements, or it must be the label ‘excellent’!

artist: Threnody Ensemble
label: All Tomorrows Parties Recordings
details: 6 tracks, 55 minutes.