Review: Ilya Ziblat – Strings and Syllables (self-released, Jun 27)

Strings and Syllables, composer and musician Ilya Ziblat’s newest release, collects excerpts from three duo improvisations recorded with string players Maya Felixbrodt (viola), Jellantsje de Vries (violin), and Hen Goldsobel (violone), himself contributing “live electronics” using a real-time sound processing touchpad. The three guest musicians each have distinct styles and approaches they executed during the sessions that are easy to pinpoint amidst the decoupled tracklist, but each most frequently rely on a combination of percussive extended techniques and swelling, resin-shredding drones to provide Ziblat plenty to work with on the fly. He splits time between manipulating pre-loaded speech recordings and what are ostensibly snatches of the string playing itself, grinding it all down into an arsenal of high-velocity granular sound objects. This allows for a sonic agility that provides some of the album’s most impacting moments: when the elements are all so scattered and hyperactive that you can’t even identify what is coming from whom, breathtaking mangled messes of the smallest semblances of musicality. Ziblat’s pad can also work the samples into a dense, impenetrable frenzy, which most often occurs when he is using voice as his source material; it becomes a meaningless swamp of unintelligible verbiage, frequently dwarfing the brighter cries of the strings in its soupy mass. The composer centers the deconstructive approach of Strings and Syllables in the context of the worldwide statue removals and general radicalization that’s been occurring, making it a volatile document of a volatile time.