Alex Cunningham un-sheaths his bow to play “Two For Olivia”

Local free improvisation master Alex Cunningham released a set of two violin pieces– one acoustic and one electric– dedicated entirely to Olivia, the Bird Cloud studios resident dog who has slept through every single one of his past recording sessions. The project is aptly named Two For Olivia. The engineering comes from Bird Cloud’s usual suspect Ryan Wasoba, who achieved a particularly jarring clarity for an end product so vivid it can turn stomach turning in its textural intention.

Olivia, the first piece of the two, uses the clarity of the recording as a springboard to indulge in an exploration of the violin that would feel familiar to long time listeners of Alex’s improvisations, yet impresses my ears with a deeply emotional and endearing sentimentality that often cuts through the noisier sections. Amps for Olivia relies on amplification and distortion to put forth a much more chaotic session marked by percussive string exploration, biting shrieks and sudden squeals. Additional process is applied on the violin with impressive results– the textures achieved are as stressful and demanding as they are intriguing to the ears of those curious about just what Alex’s violin is able to do.

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Listen to Two For Olivia via Bandcamp below

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