Pocket review: Cornelius Dufallo

Cornelius Dufallo: Dream Streets

Innova 735

Cornelius Dufallo‘s Dream Streets sounds like it wants to be taken seriously. The string parts are arranged with nice voice-leading, the mood is portentous. This is a different sort of urban music to Amy Neuburg’s secret subways. Here, with no voice, the city-dweller is moved from the centre to the periphery: the story is internal, contemplative, musical.

Many of the tracks combine heavily treated street noises with close miked, dryly acoustic violin. The street sounds are mostly traffic, rain, pavement noise; a narrow envelope. The violin writing, on the other hand, ranges from all the way from folk to jazz to modern atonal to improvised soundscapes. There’s mediation of a sort between the electronic and acoustic with the use of layering/looping techniques and echo/reverb effects. But that violin sound still remains dry, present, in way that the field-recorded sounds don’t.

But again, don’t be quick to judge. Things change a little on ‘Waiting for You’. Here there is a juxtaposition of the too-real and the electronically mediated – a string choir that accompanies the main lines. It’s an effect achieved through the recording process, not through the score: i.e., the CD is the truest version, the live performance would compromise it (rather than the opposite, which is more often the case in classical music). There’s an underlying savvy towards recording technology, but all the same there is still a weird unreality – a sense of dislocation – that disturbs. Is this unevenness or a deliberate aesthetic choice? Frankly, it’s hard to tell, but that’s probably my problem; perhaps after all it’s better to sit back and not over-think things.