Today, Fatcat`s 130701 imprint will release Shida Shahabi`s soundtrack for Maria Eriksson-Hecht’s short film, Alvaret – a 20-minute study of spirit`s trials and triumphs over tragedy and despair, produced by Lars Von Trier’s company, Zentropa. In the press one-sheet for the score, Shida is quoted as saying that she knew the work “needed an earthy yet big feeling”, a grounding that here comes from bass. The five short pieces find the celebrated pianist, as with her previous movie music – for Jennifer Rainsford`s Lake On Fire – moving away from composing on the instrument that she’s most famous for. Instead focussing on plugging-in four electric strings, and analogue synths. Using these to create low key atmospheres of drone and hum which serve as the setting for cellist, Linnea Olsson, to come in and collaboratively do her thing.Shida`s accompaniment of sparse, spare, notes in places increasing, amplified in volume to the point where you can clearly, and intimately, make out their vibration. While within the time limitations Linnea demonstrates significant dexterity, and terrific technique. There are moments that remind me of Arthur Russell’s instrumentals, but perhaps that’s only a reflection of my own limited knowledge of avant cello art. I hear a cello, and I hear Arthur. From a slow bowed ache, to see-sawing sequences, building in drama and urgency, emitting arcs of animal-like cries, the pair`s synergy summons sad, wounded, but hopeful themes that seem to sing, sigh, that all is not lost.
Shida Shahabi`s Alvaret is out today, on 130701.