"…a wandering amalgam of moods and color…"
Anne Vanschothorst, harp. Harp and Soul Music, 2017.
Dutch harpist Anne Vanschothorst calls herself a minimalist harpist and tirelessly advocates for harp to be heard more often in films, multi-media, and art projects. Her new album, Beautiful World, is a wandering amalgam of moods and color, absolutely ideal as a visual narrative. It’s not exactly New Age, for sure not background music, and I wouldn’t necessarily call her music minimalist, as I hardly feel static. There’s more a quality of sonic atmospheres, dream-like and unfolding as if in slow-motion, but always in motion as we lean in to see what might be around the next bend.
Anne’s palette seems to know no bounds, exhibited right from the outset with the combination of crystalline arpeggios against the husky whisper of Michael Moore’s clarinet in “All is Well,” which ends questioning and unresolved.
Percussionist Arthur Bont says he feels more like a melodic than rhythmic instrumentalist, and he proves his point as he expertly lends his response to the rush of melody spilling from Anne’s harp in “My Heart is Bending.” Indeed, the wildly beating heart of this sparrow is still able to be mended. There is still hope, and I was riveted.
The addition of organ from Thijs de Melker in “Terra Incognito” hits you in the solar plexus, gently but inexorably, like sub-audible sounds heard at great depths and distances. At the opening of her liner notes, Anne includes a poem by Danny Danker with these lines:
…is it true
that whales sing
because the ocean itself
Rebecca Sier’s fragile voice adds another layer of mystery to the track “Why,” which questions life, all that we love and live for, and its brevity as we must reach its inevitable end. Gentle, but searing.
“Indeed a Space Oddity” introduces the warm velvety textures of cellist, Jan Willem Troost. He returns in the title track, furnishing the tactile, naturally decaying quality of the harp with a sense of the infinite. A beautiful disc. •