Sarah Neufeld (of Arcade Fire)

Sarah Neufeld is a violinist and composer based in Montréal, Canada. Best known as a member of Arcade Fire, she is also a founding member of the acclaimed contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre, and most recently as half of an exciting new duo with renowned saxophonist Colin Stetson.

Neufeld began developing pieces for solo violin in a formal sense in 2011, though she has made improvisation and solo composition part of her process and practice since first picking up the instrument at a young age. Neufeld counts Bela Bartok, Steve Reich, Iva Bittova and Arthur Russell among the formative influences for her solo work, in tandem with an ear for the textures and sensibilities of contemporary electro-acoustic, avant-folk and indie rock music.

Neufeld’s debut solo album Hero Brother, released August 20/2013 on Constellation Records, indeed channels all of the above, flowing through shifting atmospheres and oscillating between restrained, stately ambience, emotiveétudes, and raw kinetic energy. Small touches of wordless vocalisation, harmonium and piano supplant the violin in a few places. The album was recorded in Berlin by pianist and producer Nils Frahm, with Neufeld’s performances captured in a number of locations with site-specific acoustics, including an abandoned geodesic dome.

Neufeld has recently finished a second full length album, to be released in early 2016. It is a body of work that sees Neufeld moving away from Hero Brother’s classical minimalism and sepulchral ambience, and into the worldof rhythmic pop minimalism. The new album employs more emphasis on vocalizations than Neufeld’s previous works; the interplay between Neufeld’s voice and violin has become strongly integrated and narrative. The album also features Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara on drums, adding greater layers to the compositions, creating an intense, dynamic atmosphere, and a captivating listen from start to finish.

Eartheater

Eartheater (multi-instrumentalist Alexandra Drewchin) creates a strain of free-associative electronic pop spiked with experiments in the drone and noise traditions. As the frontwoman of the ecstatic avant-psych ensemble Guardian Alien, Drewchin dives into extended improvisations in pursuit of the fearless release of emotions and sounds beyond the capacity of premeditation. On her debut solo full-length Metalepsis, Eartheater traces the opposite trajectory: the deliberate distillation of voice, synths, guitar, and studio production techniques into cyborg compositions teeming with crystalline details.

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