If you can imagine what birds chirping outside a factory during the industrial revolution might sound like, then you can imagine what George Crotty and Kirk Starkey’s Vidi Aquam is like. This three-track record, released independently in 2017, is an honest-to-goodness refreshing blend of a rich history of sounds across myriad traditions. Despite the varied style influence (from classical to jazz, from eastern to electronic music), the overall sound is comprehensive, to say the least. What else could one expect from two master cellists? I love it when musicians do their homework!
The most prominent elements in these songs are the swelling strings and driving drum loops, which reminded me a little of Bonobo. When I close my eyes to “Walk with Me,” I can see sloping green landscapes that twist and turn with the melodies. They bend from major to minor, connecting between out-of-key passing notes. The record’s title track, “Vidi Aquam,” refers to a type of Christian Chant called an antiphon. I don’t know enough about religious chants in Georgia to comment on that, but the song is haunting and beautiful. The whole record is like a city of ancient trees lit up with electric lights. It floats, and it chugs. How I wish this EP was an album.
Both Crotty and Starkey have impressive and interesting resumes. Toronto-born Crotty now plays with the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, as well as post-rock band You Bred Raptors? in New York, where he currently resides. Kirk Starkey is an experienced session player and sound artist who’s got multiple big projects under his belt, such as BBC America’s Orphan Black. It was surprising how two musicians, connected by the same instrument with such different and colourful musical backgrounds, could create something so clear, so focused.
It’s honestly rare to hear a piece of fusion music where, if I were to mute just one element, its partner could stand on its own. The interplay with technology and tradition is impressive and pleasing to my ears.
Written by Hanorah
*edited by Danielle Kenedy