See: The video for Matt Emery’s ‘Raindrops And Blood Spurts’: the scarlet fire of battle as reimagined for solo cello

THE EXCELLENT Surrey composer Matt Emery, a leading light over at Injazero Records for four years or so now working at the more deliciously experimental edges of modern composition, is launching an EP project entitled the Spotlight Series, in which he looks to investigate and put the spotlight on an instrument in turn, really explore its possibilities; and he’s launching that series this Friday with Spotlight Series : Cello.

A month back we looked at the first track to drop from that EP, “Anxiety Mist”: the coiled spring of a samurai awaiting battle recounted in melody and harmony and tension and release. Incredibly affecting, complex, we said of it: “It rises ever so slowly, tonally, as the body adjusts and readies itself for the travails ahead; you can feel that slow microtonal slide in your belly, the expectancy, the fear, the adrenalin building. Atmosphere? In spades.”

We’re into battle with the second track drop, “Raindrops And Blood Spurts”, a hell of a juxtaposition if ever there was one; the clear, cleansing rain; the scarlet richness and mess of life-force in the terror of war.

Matt’s composition, brought to life by long-time collaborator Fraser Bowles, gradually loops up the cello with a plucked pizzicato evoking the rain for a cyclical backdrop, over which a higher song of a raw, anxious folksiness adds an anxious stirring, wide-eyed, sorrowful; the sound of life at its violent extremes. And then it shifts up again into the abrading, adrenalin-filled atonality of full battle engagement; hand to hand, face to face, wound to wound.

The six tracks of the EP tell the story of a battle in miniature, echoing down the centuries: from the frantic solo of “Battle Cry”, recorded live in Matt’s parents’ kitchen, to the upbeat, thankfully optimistic closer of “R For Rebirth”.

It promises such a deep musical engagement of an experience which, any battle-seasoned samurai who may happen to be reading aside, most of us are lucky not to have lived, but can take a cathartic journey through in the power of cello this weekend.

Matt Emery’s Spotlight Series: Cello will be released digitally by Injazero Records on April 9th, and is available to pre-order now over at the label’s Bandcamp page.

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