Gizeh Records -GZH66 – 20th May 2016
On her first album since 2009, Christine Ott presents eight pieces which touch on a range of moods and emotional states. While the piano is the central instrument, the multi-instrumentalist calls on a host of additional players to incorporate strings, drums and harpsichord to create a suite of music that’s beautifully detailed. In some respects, Only Silence Remains resides in the neoclassical bracket, but equally, there are elements of post-rock and avant-garde here, and ultimately, it boils down to being music. Exquisite music, at that.
Indeed, what’s perhaps most striking about Only Silence Remains is just how subtle yet simultaneously deep it is. That most probably sounds like a contradiction, but in a time when so much music is very much geared toward instant gratification, the hook, the immediate grab, and even orchestral works are so often centred around a certain hook, whether or not associated with a major film – and more often than not, they are associated with a major film, earning endless airplay on Classic FM – Only Silence Remains is an album which requires time and contemplation.
Only Silence Remains is certainly of a standard that would sit comfortably on any film soundtrack, but in many ways, it’s above that kind of mass-market reduction of anything that’s vaguely classical in its form to ‘soundtrack’. Only Silence Remains is a magnificently singular work, and is also, in its own right, simply a magnificent work.
‘Raintrain’ moves from a sad, lone accordion to a woozy, strolling jazz-informed double bass via a delicately dropping piano. From mournful shanties to pastoral hues, Ott evokes life, in all of its colours, expressing ups and downs and myriad in-betweens.
The nine-minute ‘Tempête’ begins dark and haunting, before a chorus of, inhuman strings rise, shrieking against scribbling insect walls of sound, plunging into unseen depths down, down, into the bleak ‘Disaster’. Featuring a narration performed by Casey Brown in a cracked monotone, until finally, a lone piano drifts into silence.
Skipping lightly from twinkling wonderment to brooding drama, she demonstrates a musical intuition that’s truly exceptional. To describe or define the ways in which the music reaches in and touch the listener’s soul is nigh on impossible: it simply does.