Friday, February 24, 2012

Brooklyn Rider - Seven Steps (2012)

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It's rare that I feature classical music here but I will always make an exception for genre-straddling string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Brooklyn Rider is as comfortable playing your standard string quartet fare as they are some of the more out there stuff - like an album with Iranian composer and kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor. Considering Brooklyn Rider's innovative approach to the string quartet, it only made sense that for their latest album Seven Steps, they would tackle one of classical music's foremost innovators - Ludwig van Beethoven.

Though Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 is the crux of the album, it's far from its only highlight. Title track "Seven Steps", composed collaboratively between the foursome using sketches and improvisation, was inspired by Brooklyn Rider's experience writing a piece with a band 2 Foot Yard for University at North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Consisting of seven parts, "Seven Steps" exists as a sort of modern mirroring of Beethoven's fourtheenth, partially recalling the sound and feel of Colin Jacobsen composed piece "Brooklesca" off 2008's Passport. Separating the two distinctive pieces is Christopher Tignor's "Together Into This Unknowable Night", a piece full of a solemnity and that minimalistically explodes into a beautiful multi-layered roar of tiered pizzicati and flowing melodic lines.

Even if classical music isn't your normal cup of tea, Brooklyn Rider provide you with ample to choose from in fast-paced thrill ride "Seven Steps", rich moving "Together Into This Unknowable Night", or the stunning masterpiece that is Beethoven's Op. 131 (that actually injects some much-appreciated joviality into the album in the form of the fifth movement's Scherzo) that something's bound to resonate with you. Seven Steps is an intensely pleasing affair that's sure to be enjoyed by all regardless of where your tastes normally lie. Brooklyn Rider has succeeded once again in creating an accessible gem that displays not only their talent but brilliantly highlights the talents of others.

Get a taste of Brooklyn Rider with opening/title track "Seven Steps" and if you like what you hear, you can check out the album on Spotify.

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