Kaledophonica (Real World Records, 2013)
Real World Records has put out a honey of a recording with Spiro’s Kaledophonica. Following up on their 2011 release Lightbox, also a Real World Records release, Spiro again dazzles the listener with their unique approach to the quartet. If I had to explain it visually I guess Kaledophonica is a bit like looking straight up into a snow storm. Bound by tight, neatly worked compositions and just plain musical mastery, Spiro put a bright shine on this elegant musical combination that grasps at classical, dance and folk traditions to create something wholly original and engaging.
Pooling the talents of violinist Jane Harbour, piano accordionist Jason Sparkes, mandolin player Alex Vann and guitarist and cellist Hon Hunt, Spiro pulses with a vibrancy on each every track, noticeably apparent from Kaledophonica’s opening track “Yellow Noise” and through to “The City and the Stars” and to “We will Be Absorbed.” While not exactly folk, Kaledophonica possess such sweet little tunes like “Steeple” and “Ashes” that evolve into ever more complicated circles around the same tune it evokes the charm of folk traditions.
“We’re like a string quartet, but the most driving and exciting string quartet that you could imagine,” says violinist Harbour.
“We’ve got more to do with minimalist classical and dance music than we have with folk. Even though we use folk tunes, they’re raw material that the rest of the sound is built around,” explains guitarist Jon Hunt.
The music is as fresh as Spiro’s approach, delving into a musical experience that has a bit of a Phillip Glass feel, but still retains a uniqueness that defies classification. But then again, perhaps this is just the sort of music a classical violinist who studied in Japan under Shinichi Suzuki like Ms. Harbour, an accordionist who turned to folk in his teens as Mr. Sparkes, a punk band percussionist like Alex Vann and a guitarist who roamed from pop to punk to post punk/new wave as Mr. Hunt did would come up with.
Mr. Hunt explains, “There was never a grand plan. It’s just evolved. Some kind of magic thing happened between us that wasn’t necessarily expected. It was quite serendipitous. We’re all quite different as musicians and we each brought in particular passions and visions. It’s all been about the interaction of those visions.”
Yes, Kaledophonica must be possessed of some kind of magic. Rich, intricate and expertly crafted, this music will surely delight music fans of all kinds.
Buy Kaledophonica in North America
Buy Kaledophonica in Europe
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.