Alex Cunningham is a violinist, improviser and visual artist based in St. Louis, MO. Knell is his fourth solo violin release, and the third of which that's entirely improvised.
Initially seeming to document a brutal attack on the instrument, the album progresses more like a surgical examination, with Cunningham.digging into the physical properties of wood, bow and strings to wrench out a wealth of sonic detail. Downtuning and sheer kinetic intensity produce harsh abrasion, percussive rattling, and rich overtones, and there's even an attempt to utilise the violin as a wind instrument. Tonal playing is only arrived at after apparently significant effort, in bursts of backwoods hysteria.
Vital free improv that's both rigourous and playful.
released February 28, 2019
Recorded and mastered by Ryan Wasoba.
Cover image by Alex Cunningham.
For Robert K.
So happy to see a new album from this band. I've long been a fan of Mazurek and Parker's work in Tortoise, on top of the CUQ... Anyhow, if you're curious about contemporary jazz, this is a terrific place to start.