Alex Groves and Eliza McCarthy in Curved Form No.4

Listen: Alex Groves’ Curved Form (No. 4) on Bandcamp

Sometimes it takes someone else to introduce you to something you never thought of listening to.

I don’t normally stray from my classical comfort zone – Western European tradition, avant-garde, etc.

Minimalism – save for the forefathers of the genre Reich and Glass – can in the present day be so minimalist as to be meaningless and unsatisfying.

But, composer Alex Groves defies my relatively tough assumption-fuelled expectations with his latest release on Bandcamp – a piece written in collaboration with Eliza McCarthy in 2017 and now released for the first time – Curved Form (No. 4).

Alex’s track description is as good as I would ever be able to write, so I’ll include it here:

Inspired by the visually-charged artwork of Bridget Riley with its bold repetitions of simple forms, Alex’s Curved Form series takes as its starting point a singular set of musical DNA. Each work grows in a different direction but they all share these common ancestors.

In Curved Form (No. 4), the aim was to create a ‘blissed out drone piece made with hammers’. The pulsating chords gradually morphing into one another, receding into the background and allowing the ever-shifting resonance of the piano to take over. 

Alex Groves

That all-consuming soundworld goes places, taking me on a gentle but unequivocally uplifting journey. It doesn’t drown out the terror and struggle of everyday life but instead repositions me somewhere to the side of it, so that I can observe what’s going on from a safe distance.

By the time you’re approaching the middle of Benjamin Tassie’s 80s-PC infused remix, the melodic cells at the heart of Groves and McCarthy’s original concept have an altogether comforting feel.

There’s excitement in Matt Huxley’s reworking – a sense of hope driving that same melodic idea forward – with arresting treatments which gently subvert our expectations. This, like Tassie’s remix and the studio version before it, maintain their distinctiveness with elegant touches and a rich soundscape.

It’s a rare thing that contemporary music can leave me wanting more. Maybe my attention is shifting to a different genre. In some respects, I regret not haven’t pursued it until now. Still, I’m on only 46. Perhaps there’s still time.

Listen to the Curved Form (No. 4) EP on Bandcamp

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