The latest work from New York-based Lithuanian composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė is a gorgeous, slowly-building suite that invites listeners to lose track of time. The tracks range from a minute to a quarter hour, but the transitions are virtually invisible: segues between scenes. When the journey is over, one is stunned to realize that seventy minutes have passed.
The FortVio piano trio is listed prominently in the press release, but cello, violin and electronics also play a part, and a light choir surfaces early on “Blue.” At this point the project tilts a bit in the direction of dark ambience, although to quote a previous reviewer, “haunting” is a better word. The music implies drifting in space, while the cathedral reflected on the cover (also in blue) draws comparison to the band raison d’être. Three degrees of separation (edifice to water to paper to eye) demonstrate the composer’s theme. By using words such as “fleeting, ephemeral, transient” and titling a track “Shadows of Memories,” Martinaitytė hammers the point home. The chimes of “Ephemeral” connect past to present, and invite listeners to dig.
The melodic themes of “Longings in Perpetual Motion” gel in “Serenity Diptychs,” the strings more direct, like thoughts coming into focus. The violin seems to reach higher, physically and spiritually. Suddenly in the seventh minute, the thrill of major keys, tumbling into frantic piano and an extreme sense of agitation. The cello descends into darkness just before the choir reappears, like Orpheus in the mouth of hell. During this extended sequence, the project pivots and bleeds something deeper ~ not just texture, but trajectory.
All of these forces come to fruition in the penultimate piece, “Inhabited Silences.” The piano keys are struck harder than ever before, awakening the strings, which respond in a wild series of glissandos. Fragmented melodies are woven into one. The center of the piece swirls, a whirlpool of sound. One might take the title literally or see it as a reflection of a fertile mind. In the final minutes, the catchiest passages appear once more, tumbling back on themselves like folded time. A couple minutes later, the album will end, but it can be crumpled and un-crumpled, leaving mirrored reflections, tracks pressing into tracks, minutes into minutes, memories into memories. Did we recover that lost beauty? Or was the beauty in the search? (Richard Allen)