Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
Raphael Weinroth-Browne is at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto working out the kinks. The cello player, who divides his time between T.O. and Ottawa, is talking a lot about “colour” and “phrasing” and “emphasis.” They are concepts that seem kind of abstract. How exactly do you add colour to a cello composition?
“A lot of pieces require a kind of tension,” Weinroth-Browne explains, “I’m trying to loosen that to play a little freer.”
His music practice these days is rather physical as he changes from a classical framework. Weinroth-Browne, who’s played with Musk Ox, Flying Horses, and Little Suns, is moving to a more raw playing style in order to add more dynamic elements to the music he creates with vocalist Heather Sita Black. Together they are called The Visit.
The duo released a new single called Between Worlds. It’s fourteen-and-a-half minutes of intensity that they’re describing as metal, experimental, and New Age. Fans of Loreena McKennitt, Enigma, and the 4AD back catalogue should take note. Cocteau Twins’ fans in particular can relate to Black’s vocal style. She’s not singing with words, rather she’s expressing herself through acrobatic vocalizations that go from placid to regal. It’s challenging music, but not so far away from the ear-pleasing structures of melody and rhythm as to be esoteric noise. Think of the peak of the chamber rock movement and you’ll get a sense of what The Visit is about.
The duo first met when Black was seeking for a musician to accompany her in a dance performance. Like minds combined and The Visit was formed. A creative tension in studio meant recording of their first single was delayed by the complexity of the music and by some nitpicky tendencies, Weinroth-Browne says.
Creative tension bred other tensions and the duo soon became a romantic couple as well, which is well expressed in the dynamics of the music.
“These pieces come from a running theme,” Weinroth-Browne says. “It’s a love story type vibe replete with peacefulness, exhilaration, and conflict. It oscillates between all these things.”
The Visit plays Pressed as part of the Warmth in Winter show on January 25.