The last time we heard anything concrete from Cello + Laptop, the year was 2013 (but only just – it was December). Since their live performance at Barcelona’s Eufonic Urbà Festival, studio sessions, recordings and mixes have taken up much of their time, but in that period there was very little of what you may call a definitive return. As the months went on, the prospect of a new album became dimmer and ever more distant. Multiple attempts were made to restart the successful project, but a kind of malaise had gripped the musical process. Kick-starting the project back into gear seemed like an insurmountable task.
One year later, the four tracks of Segments are thankfully here, and it’s available as a free download at the link below. Recorded in Valencia, Segments is made out of longer, live improvisations. Sara Galán & Edu Comelles blend the incredibly thick, soulful tone of the cello with a subtle electronic sprinkling of loops and drones, and it’s still just as beautiful. The cello’s rich sound sits like a Queen on a golden throne, while the light electronics coolly move around it. Experimental in nature, the cello nonetheless dominates the sound. Sparse lines sit majestically beside the cello’s drone, circling it and progressing the music in a way that’s always unhurried. Segments is the start of a road that will come to define, separate and split the duo’s past from their future. The music is always intelligently played, and that’s one of the reasons why the music resounds with such power.
Segments begins with “Welcome”. It’s grandiose and reassuringly friendly. And it should sound that way, because Segments is a reunion with old friends. The chambers and the halls are once again surrounded by the music of kings. The olive wreaths of “The Garden” wrap around the cello. Vines that snake around the music’s house slowly become notes that echo, diminish and fall away, and then a stuttering electronic rhythm suddenly appears. The time to say “Farewell” comes around too quickly, but it’s a pleasure just to be able to listen to their music once again, and it bodes well for the future. It’s a darker, slower piece that drags its feet; the music has returned. Thankfully, a new album is set to be recorded this summer. Segments is just the right length to get reacquainted with their music. Cello + Laptop have shed their skin; their music has, too. They have been missed. (James Catchpole)