CINDER: EMBER: ASHES
An explorer and a musician, an improviser and a composer, Aviva Endean takes her assorted clarinets (and occasional other instruments) into uncharted musical lands on this solo album; lands where – as if she has stepped through an aural looking-glass – they suddenly cease to sound like themselves. Especially striking is her contrabass clarinet, a rarely-heard device with which Endean makes music shrouded in mystery on Burst in Black: Under and Smoulder: Beneath.
But even a conventional clarinet sheds all traces of orthodoxy in her hands and mouth, summoning up spectral cries augmented by the equally unsettling noise generated by rubbing the head of a timpani. If you stumbled into a cave heard such sounds you would evacuate it again at a brisk rate, I can tell you. But what really impresses with Endean’s music as that you never feel she’s experimenting just for the sake of it: she is expanding the vocabulary of the clarinet family (and of music in general) to genuinely artistic ends. She doesn’t just want to surprise us, she wants to touch us, and not with the abrasiveness of so many extended techniques, but with ones of often astonishing beauty.