We all need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone from time to time. That is where we find out the most about ourselves, where we learn the most, and where we adapt. Ever since I stumbled upon Everything Is Noise first as a reader, I truly realized how much music was out there and how much I actually didn’t know. I started pushing myself to check out all the various types of music featured on the site so that I could get a good taste of everything that’s out there. I honestly feel indebted to EIN for helping me come out of my musical shell and experience all that the world of music has to offer. Now here I am, trying to become more familiar with the realm of modern classical music; a voyage that I couldn’t be happier to have embarked on.
One of my first introductions to the world of modern classical was through Raphael Weinroth-Browne‘s Worlds Within. I fell head over heels for this album with how captivating the music was despite being very minimalistic. I needed more music with absolutely serene soundscapes as I heard on that album. This brings us to the album at hand, Sarah Neufeld’s Detritus. Neufeld is well known for her time in Arcade Fire up until 2014. Now she focuses on her solo career while also being a part of a highly regarded instrumental ensemble, Bell Orchestre. Speaking of which, Bell Orchestre just released an album, House Music, earlier this year as well. So, if you like what you’re hearing here, definitely follow up with that.
Detritus is Neufeld’s third solo effort, one that fans have been eagerly awaiting. Ever since her debut, Hero Brother, it was clear that this solo musical journey was something that goes beyond music and the newest record most definitely carries the torch. Detritus is an entrancing, emotional collection of seven pieces that is absolutely mesmerizing, but only if you put in the effort to learn its intricate shapes and curves. This piece of art scratches the same itch that the aforementioned Worlds Within does. One major difference is that Detritus is made up of additional instrumentation including violin, percussion, synths, French horn, saxophone, flute, and some ominous vocal sections whereas Worlds Within is purely cello.
This isn’t the type of record that is very effective when you just dip your toes into the various arrangements. Only when you fully dive in and let yourself become completely engulfed by the music, will you fully get the most from this album. From the moment the album opens up with “Stories”, you’re made very much aware of the melancholic tone of the record. The immensely sorrowful violin is your sole guiding light in this mysteriously beautiful ambient piece. The warm fluttering vocals come in later in the track and provide a sense of familiarity, peace, and comfort.
The highlight track, “Tumble Down the Undecided”, is a long-winded piece that focuses on the subtle repetition of a violin melodic motif while the rest of the accompanying instruments progressively build in intensity. The percussion is notably the sole driving force here as the complex rhythmical arrangements make this piece hit you with a tidal wave of emotion during the release of tension towards the end of the song. The following track, “Shed Your Dear Heart”, is the equal yet opposite counterpart to “Tumble Down the Undecided”. This mournful tune is flipped in which the melodic motif from the violin is at the forefront whereas the additional instrumentation takes a back seat and supports in an equally powerful, yet reserved manner. The various instruments intermingle with one another to create such luscious atmospheres that I cannot help but lose myself in the music.
Detritus is a masterfully composed musical journey that is so entrancing, I cannot help but let myself become completely enwrapped in the undeniably rich sonic textures. Sarah Neufeld‘s violin work and arrangements are sure to put you under a hypnotic spell that grips you from beginning to end. As much as I enjoy her work in Arcade Fire, I am a firm believer that this was Neufeld’s true musical calling and Detritus is living, breathing proof that this is the case. Once you soak in everything that Detritus has to offer, you’ll see exactly what I mean.