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With ‘Chords’, the Stockholm-based musician and composer Ellen Arkbro returns to Subtext, following her acclaimed debut album ‘For Organ and Brass’. This new longplayer sees Arkbro adopt a more minimalist approach, focusing on the immediate qualities of sound and elegantly expanding the tonal capacities of acoustic instruments using precise, subtle synthesis. Composed of a carefully selected combination of tones, ‘Chords’ stretches, extends and obscures the timbral character of the instruments it is performed on. Across both tracks, Arkbro examines the sonic materiality and harmonic quality of chords. She considers how the compositions occupy space rather than time – transposing theoretical possibilities into the phenomenal realm. As a part of Arkbro’s systematic investigation of harmonic sound, ‘Chords’ proffers a divergence from conventional ways of listening. This work allows for a form of listening which goes beyond the mere reception of outer stimuli in letting the listener experience their role as active, and as embodying the sound itself. Space rather than time becomes the primary locus of listening as subtle movement of head and body reveals the inner complexities of ‘Chords’.
‘Chords for Organ’ was first envisaged in Stockholm’s brutalist Västerort Church. With an interest in tuned intervals and chords, Arkbro sought out particular harmonicities before synthetically supplying additional harmonic content and texture. To pure fifths and octaves she adds synthesised natural sevenths and thirds, creating a heightened sense of harmonic stability. While this incarnation of ‘Chords for Organ’ was recorded in Malmö’s St. John’s Church, this work is site-specific, requiring Arkbro to seek out appropriate chordal orchestrations in registers and tunings on each respective instrument, when performing live. ‘Chords for Organ’ has been adapted and performed in Martin Luther Kirche in Dresden, Civico Tempio Di San Sebastiano in Milan, First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, Lutherse Kerk in Den Haag and Sint-Jan de Doperkerk in Leuven. In the corresponding ‘Chords for Guitar’ Arkbro applies her process to a more widely accessible instrument. Employing a fine-tuned Karplus-Strong synthesis, she supplements additional tones to create a harmonically controlled blend of the acoustic and the synthetic." (Boomkat)