Alien Stories

String Noise

Infrequent Seams Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The aptly named String Noise is a duo comprised of Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim Harris, who are armed with violins and a tremendous amount of skill. Add an experimental vision to their atypical equation, and you've got these five pieces by African American composers that make up my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Alien Stories, which defies classification and rarely sit in one place for very long.

The title track, which is by Jesse Cox, gets the listen off to a fascinating start, as the pair embrace both screeching and pretty manipulation of their instruments that are plucked and bowed playfully and precisely.

Moving on, “ARCHIVE01 [Absolute Recoil]” continues the unusual climate and includes cinematic moments colliding with pensive, even stirring string acrobatics in the Lester St. Louis original.

The middle tracks, Anais Marviel's “La Púyala Muntá” and Charles Overton's “Only Time Will Tell,” are among the best, as the former sits closer to classical music with no shortage of melody, while the latter produces much emotion and energy as Conrad and Pauline bring a very artistic delivery to their inestimable craft.

The final track, “Yet To Be,” is probably the most intimate and a perfect finish to a charming, even if perplexing performance, as the two interpret Jonathan Finlayson's piece with calm yet efficient interplay that even embraces bebop fun.

Although listening to a record that's just two violins wasn't exactly high on my list of things to do anytime soon, String Noise's mashing of classical, folk, punk, avant-garde, and unpredictable musicianship made me a fan pretty quick. This was actually one of the three albums they released on the same day this year, and having spent time with both of others, too, I can quite confidently say that no one else is making sounds like this with violins. It's an experience you won't forget anytime soon.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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