Each selection on Corpo di Terra seeks to be a “song without words,” which may be why composer Suzanne Farrin’s music feels so familiar. Structured around texts of the Italian poet Petrarch, with the exception of “Time Is a Cage,” these solos and duets play like field recordings from inside the cerebral cortex.
“Polvere et Ombra” uncorks the record with fleet glissandi from harp virtuoso Nuiko Wadden, giving the impression of words being shaken loose from an ancient encyclopedia. The title track, which follows, is most representative of the seductive harmonic language put to use by Farrin. Irascible scratches and dissonances diffuse into the solace of consonant, fluttering harmonics, like the first calm inhalation after a scream.
Corpo di Terra’s sterling musicianship comes to a head with Antoine Tamestit (viola) on “Uscirmi di Braccia” and Joshua Rubin (clarinet) for “Ma Dentro Dove.” Tamestit trounces the tetrachords scrubbing across the strings, while Rubin redirects his instrument into an unplayed piano, the strings of which resonate sympathetically in response. “Time Is a Cage” pulls the listener out of a linear reality with violin soloist Cal Wiersma bending pitches, and the brain.