Album reviews

Fractus – ‘Fractus’

(Available from Bandcamp – link below. Album Review by Patrick Hadfield)

The compositions are gently understated. The front line comprises Irini Arabatzi‘s ethereal, mostly wordless vocals and Matt Carmichael‘s powerful tenor saxophone. Beneath this, the mood is determined by strings – Bernadette Kellerman on violin, Juliette Lemoine on cello -in addition to Hendry on bass, Dan Brown on accordion and Fergus McCreadie on piano on some tracks.

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It is perhaps Greg Irons’ drums and Hendry’s bass that root the music in jazz rather than folk or contemporary classical. But Hendry’s writing brings to mind works by Michael Nyman or Philip Glass, with their repeating, minimalist themes, and, to my ears, Erland Cooper’s recent collaboration with the Scottish Ensemble, with a similar emotional effect. Some of the pieces feel as if they could be film soundtracks, and it may be no coincidence that Hendry, who studied writing for film at Berklee, has been working with film composer Niamh Ní Mheara, who provides thoughtful, poetic lyrics to two of the tracks.

For all their elegant simplicity, the six tunes on this EP, just under half an hour of music, carry deep emotional weight, stemming from Arabatzi and Carmichael. The balance between the voice and the sometimes rasping tenor solos creates a tension, relieved through the ensemble returning to the theme. Although Hendry is the driving force behind the band, Fractus seems very much a collaborative project, each instrument making its contribution without overwhelming the others. The result is at once beautiful and haunting.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. He is on Mastodon.

LINK: Fractus on Bandcamp

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