“Brother Tree Sound’s second EP takes us on a journey to find the spaces between; of which there are many if we pause to observe them. Interstice means an intervening space, especially a very small one. The space between music and silence, the space between four musicians where their imaginations meet, spaces between microtones, the space where sunlight filters through the leaves of a tree, the space of an afterthought.
Brother Tree Sound is an indie contemporary classical group formed around the talents of Anna de Bruin, Thea Spiers, Peter Mallinson and Julia Graham. Together they are dedicated to encouraging new ways of listening through collectively interpreting the landscape and language of 21st century music. Brother Tree Sound’s open approach to repertoire sees them moving seamlessly from minimalism to neo-classical and experimentalism to laptop jams with space for some Ravel along the way.”
The latest release on Bigo & Twigetti comes from the quartet Brother Tree Sound and their “Interstices” EP. The EP is made up of five short pieces from composers Peter Fribbins, Andrew McIntosh and Sam Cave and linked together by the short interludes of label boss Jim Perkins’ “Interstices I and II”. From what I can see the group would appear to possibly be a fluid one with it’s membership changing per release or possibly availability – as the members are involved with a variety of projects. The three pieces of the quartet are of the minimal persuasion with each piece becoming progressively more minimal and utilising more space as the EP moves on. The pieces also become more experimental and dissonant in sound.
Opening with UK composer Peter Fribbins’ “I Have the Serpent Brought String Quartet no 1. mvt. 2”, a piece that would appear to have an evolving life, the string quartet take a movement from the original fifteen minute piece that fits in nicely with the rest of the pieces on the EP. The original full piece has at times rapid movement and approaches such as plucking of the strings as it moves through a diverse musical landscape. The section chosen is quite possibly the most mournful and melancholic of the whole piece. There is a curiosity of choosing this movement as opposed to say the final more dissonant one, with a bit more variety within the confines of the EP maybe being the choice.
While Peter Fribbin’s is more suited within the chamber music sphere, US composer Andrew McIntosh has more of a background in the avant garde side of classical music. His piece “Tread Softly” premiered in 2016 with the Isaura Quartet performing it. A more angular piece, “Tread Softly” feels like it’s about casting shadows and shapes with the music as it intersects between short stabs of sound and longer formed elements of drone. With the title taken from the WB Yeats poem “The Cloths Of Heaven”, the music moves from being together to being separated, almost as if coming from different approaches.
The final piece comes from UK composer Sam Cave and is the most recent of the compositions being premiered in 2018. The difference between Brother Tree Sound’s take on the piece and the one I heard through the composers Soundcloud page is that there tends to be more of a dramatic shift in tensions on the Brother Tree Sound interpretation. In some way the piece falls in between the other two in terms of it’s sound and feel, the dissonance of “Tread Softly” and the more classical take of “I Have the Serpent…” but still separating itself sonicly between those two so it is not just a reflection of them, rather an intersection of them.
In between the three pieces are two “Interstices” by Jim Perkins. According to the release page these are “representing the afterthoughts, the space that follows the music”. Much like the other pieces these two interludes from Perkins are about reflecting the piece before it and taking it in a slightly different direction by filling in the pieces’ spaces with warm, resonating and complimenting Ambience. The beauty of these “Interstices” is that there are not merely copying the original works, they are set to enhance them and add a different take on them.
The definition of “Interstices” is “a small or narrow space or interval between things or parts, especially when one of a series of alternating uniform spaces and parts”. This clearly can be heard in the pieces chosen by by the quartet and the way that they use tone, pace, light and silence to reveal them. “Interstices” is available as a Digital release.