Resina is the perfect album for fall, the music’s autumnal hues enhanced by the artist’s fiery hair. Fatcat’s 130701 imprint has an ear for talent, and introduced the Polish cellist Karolina Rec to a global audience on their summer compilation, Eleven into Fifteen. “June” is exclusive to that set, but seven additional originals can be found here.
Listening to Resina (“the blood of the tree”), one wonders how an artist’s debut can sound so fully-formed. The answer: Resina is only a new solo artist. She’s played for years in numerous Polish bands and has appeared on many soundtracks. Still, this set is shockingly confident. From its bowed beginning to its plucked finale, Resina enthralls the listener, the sounds filling the forest like the scent of freshly fallen leaves.
One of the album’s greatest strengths is its variety. “Tatry I” evokes Richard Skelton, smartly credited in the press release. But as soon as the second track launches, one realizes that Rec is not adverse to taking risks. Her cello chirps like a baby bird, swoops like a parent bringing food, and eventually soars like a family in flight. As a tempo emerges, fans may actually find themselves nodding their heads, as if “Flock” were a dance track.
So why in the world is the cover black and white, an image that seems to be taken straight out of The Ring? The answer is simple: as much as Resina may be enamored with the forest and the fall, she also feels a tug toward the dark. This undertow is first apparent on “Nightjar”, which sounds like a sinister version of a firefly hunt. Sounds, not insects, are captured, then begin to panic, flailing blindly against the glass walls, wood creaking, strings snapping, begging for a hole to be poked in the metal lid. In “Dark Sky, White Matter”, the tappings grow desperate, sounding more like the work of a prepared piano than a cello. A low foghorn bow sounds its solemn cry. The flickerings cease. When only a hundred seconds remain, additional harmonies rush in to fill the gap, but even they grow agitated and crash, their souls rising in “Afterimage” to the grey, impassive skies. The artist is left to sing a wordless elegy as she plucks and mourns. Then a silent, extended pause. Is the album over? Not yet ~ there’s time for a final look back, preserving the memory of the notes, which echo even as they fade. We are left with the aural image of the artist’s photograph, hoping that she will turn once again our way. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 30 September