Christopher Tignor has created a perfect new-music make-out album. To be crystal clear, this is intended as high praise for this artist, who listeners may already know from his work with A Far Cry, Brooklyn Rider and The Knights. Sensual, often melancholy, and expansive in its approach to both melody and time, Along a Vanishing Plane is record for drawing the drapes and tucking into a pillowy sofa.
Documentary filmmakers: time to nudge up that soundtrack budget and lay claim to track 1, “We Keep This Flame.” A simple, descending D-A-Bb-G line immediately unlocks pangs of nostalgia, and as this thread spins outward – growing in resolve with the addition of a kick drum and patient crescendo – we encounter the schematic of this record. That’s Tignor on the violin, his custom-designed (and freely available) software chemtrail-ing him with harmony, and his right foot pedaling the drum. All live, all in one unedited take.
While not essential to getting drawn into his sonic orbit, seeing the composer/performer strike a triangle with his tuning fork – then caress his violin’s bridge with the vibrating metal to trigger a new melodic arc– is certainly a more visually arresting experience than simple playback or knob-twiddling. Such is the case for the two tracks comprising “One Eye Blue One Eye Black,” in which tightly-wavering, plucked pitches (think/hear the music boxes of Björk’s “Pagan Poetry”) are enveloped in a plush plumage of bass.
Beyond the elegant pacing and unselfconsciousness of emotionality in the writing, what makes Along a Vanishing Plane so uninterrupted in its sensuality is the concision in the number of sounds employed, and the commitment to dreamy tempi. On the other hand, what lands for many tracks – a bright, somewhat stiff violin tone or the pensive lag of the electronics – is less engaging in others, such as with the teetering accompaniment found in “Artifacts of Longing.”
Beautifully constructed and delivered, Christopher Tignor’s ninth LP is one for getting lost, alone or with a companion. That there’s no “Hold on, lover, while I skip past this double-fugue-for-detuned-nail-gun track…” interruptions just makes it all the more ideal in the second of these listening scenarios.
- Doyle Armbrust