Earlier this year, the Bigo & Twigetti label asked its artists to contribute a personal reflection of summer. This compilation is the result. Summer is a potpourri of presentations that opens up the question, “What does summer sound like?”
For this listener, summer sounds like the opening track, Pavel Karmanaov‘s “Michael Music”: ebullient, with sparks and ocean droplets flying all around. The pace is quick, the piano well-fed, the violins caffeinated. This is a perfect song for waking up and throwing open the blinds: it’s a brand new day! “Michael Music” is easily the happiest track on the album (although none of them are morose), a lens through which to examine the rest. Aisha Orazbayeva‘s “Lizard Dance” is as playful as the winding of a toy, an exercise in scales (pun intended) that would fit well in the setting of “Rango”. If the opening track is a quick awakening, “Lizard Dance” is a slow stretch. Already we have two kinds of summers.
Nathan Shubert‘s “Saga Norén, Länskrim, Malmö” restores the piano, albeit in a more restrained fashion: more a slow drive in air conditioning than a fast drive with windows down. Leah Kardos‘ “Little Phase” is even slower, retaining its contemplative tone even after the entrance of drums. One begins to wonder if these four artists would ever be able to go on vacation together. We imagine Kardos wandering around the beach at her own pace, looking for sea glass; Orazbayeva making sand castles, Schubert wading, Karmanaov boogie boarding.
Electronics play a greater role in the second half. Madeline Cocolas‘ “Vermillion” introduces synth notes early, along with Cocolas’ soothing voice. It’s a reminder of Enya’s early days, when she was still just a little bit edgy. This is the album’s most peaceful track, as calm as an afternoon nap; and look, there’s Cocolas sunbathing on the towel! But cast your eyes to the volleyball court, where you’ll find Barbara Morgenstern and Robert Lippok, determined looks on their faces, moving to the beats and beeps of “Scrambler” emanating from the waterproof boom box.
At first, we were stymied by the voiceover in Antonymes‘ brief and beautiful “The Long Road,” but then we realized: of course! He’s reading a book! The crackle and shimmer of this track reminds us that sometimes summer is the luxury of introspection, the long hours of quiet replenishment. Jim Perkins weaves the strands together in the end, as “21 by 21” offers hints of everything that has gone before: classical and electronic, thoughtful and playful, happy and sad all at once. In Summer, we hear the season through different ears; there’s something for everybody here. (Richard Allen)