Nicolas Bernier’s strings.lines uses tuning forks, violin and viola de gamba to produce music that effortlessly evokes early music and also the future. Bernier has these ancient instruments weave slow, graceful, often pained patterns akin to the trio sonatas of baroque composers, but pits these against extreme high and low sustained tones from the tuning forks that most closely recalls the sine waves of Ryoji Ikeda. Before reading the notes to the release that is exactly what I thought was happening, contemporary works for strings and digital electronics.
The glacial gloom conveyed from the strings is actually closer to work by backwards-looking contemporary composers like Arvo Part and Valentin Silvestrov, but like their music a timeless simplicity is present. The forks produce almost painful drones which the players try to match, happily sliding off course to create sorrowful improvisations around these fixed points. The forks also slip and slide, producing acoustic “glitches” comparable to the slips created by the performers. This is a marvellous recording of new music which engages with history in surprising and disorienting ways.