Thursday, February 12, 2015

Listen: Christopher Tignor - "Thunder Lay Down In The Heart"

As I looked at the lineup for an upcoming show at Cameo Gallery featuring Friend Roulette collaborator Paul Damian Hogan the Third this Friday night another name curiously caught my eye: Christopher Tignor. I recognized the name - not only that I remembered exactly from: Tignor's "Together Into This Unknowable Night" was one of the two original works on Brooklyn Rider's Seven Steps. Though I didn't realize it at the time, the Brooklyn based violinist/software engineer follows the path of most modern composers through forming his own ensembles to perform his works. That's essentially how Thunder Lay Down In The Heart, Tignor's second "solo" album, came to be.

While much of the album itself contains reinterpretations, reworks, and reconfigurations of  a piece Tignor wrote for string orchestra, electronics, and drums inspired by poet John Ashberry's "A Boy", at the album's core lays the work from which the album draws its title and the rest of the album acts as a reaction to: "Thunder Lay Down In The Heart", split into three parts for what seems like convenience considering it's attacca cohesiveness.

Tignor's approach is slow and steady - stealthily assembling the necessary themes and harmonic devices that are sure elicit a strong reaction; Tignor's work shows a considerable amount of restraint. He introduces the electronic element of his work first and foremost as a sort of steady pulsation while the strings' fluid arcs act in counterpoint to build much of the tension. And yet, Tignor's form of tension release comes through unexpected changes - after nearly five minutes of slow burning melodic thaw, the ensemble overtakes the electronic pulse and comes sharply into focus.

Christopher Tignor's "Thunder Lay Down In The Heart" is a work borne of patience. Not only his own but requiring a bit on the listener's part to make it all worthwhile. Instead of throwing an endless assortment of ideas at you to sink into, Tignor shuffles a handful in from the periphery. Considering Tignor's minimalistic tendencies, the real surprise is how swiftly the man can shift themes. The build ups are organic and develop through sensible pacing but Tignor still finds a way to make his climactic surges unpredictable. Tignor's grandiose music moments arrive in a heady rush, he obscures the gears from view while clearly working off of them to make those moments the most satisfying in a way that's almost subliminal.  

Christopher Tignor's Thunder Lay Down In The Heart is available now via Western Vinyl. You can catch Tignor at Cameo Gallery with Secret Cities on 2/13, St. Vitus with This Will Destroy You, or at Littlefield 3/13 with Bing & Ruth

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