By Rachel Narvey
There is something to be said about music that doesn’t facilitate multitasking. Even trying to send an IM while listening to Civvie’s Inheritance is a no-go. The experimental three-piece, consisting of Alex Eastley on bassoon, Natanielle Felicitas on cello, and Kelly Ruth playing a loom connected to loop pedals and contact microphones, have created something entirely arresting with their debut album.
Recorded in one day, Inheritance is composed of seven segments of improvised collaboration. To listen to the album is a way to join the process, allowing emotions to rise in ways that cannot be predicted, that flow under and around what each musician is doing, and then align and join with bewildering clarity in sudden waves and flourishes.
One track, “Encroachment,” begins serenely, only to shift to a sound that is devastating and violent as the cello rehashes a minor note and the bassoon wails dissonance. Eventually a consistent beat emerges and the song forays on, becoming darkly adventurous. “Empire i” evokes a Narnian lullaby, music suitable for a campfire stop on a long journey. The loom, ever reproducing familiar sounds in uncanny ways, initially mimics the sound of wind blowing through a campground, but later, morphs into tumbling rock, earth giving way to fissures and echoes.
The last track of the album, “Humoresque Girls” is brief but sprinkled with wavering trills and more open air. This is Civvie at their most playful, but the trio’s excitement for making some wild noise together is palpable throughout the entire album. Inheritance is a rare moment to listen in on that excitement in a way that seems incredibly intimate. In the midst of an array of media that lets us consume at a safe and comfortable distance, Inheritance demands that you step into the frame and try something new. And it’s well worth it.