I’ve been sitting with this album for a while now, trying to come up with something cohesive to write about and continually falling short. Truth is, gabby fluke-mogul’s threshold is one of the most intense and captivating releases of 2021 so far. These six pieces mostly for violin bristle and connect on a physical level. It’s as if mogul is performing an exorcism on this haunted instrument, extracting inhuman tones and casting them into the open, darkened sky. threshold is a forceful, memorable statement.
I’ve never heard someone play a violin like this and fluke-mogul stretches the limits of what seems possible. Beyond the timbre and sonic qualities, the volume changes and speed at which they move from one point to another is astonishing. “bruise” overwhelms from the get-go, fluke-mogul scratching out intricate codes in bone, feeling every last sharp edge until everything is ground to dust and they quietly tip-toe to the next uncut slab before flooring it again. At times it sounds like an oscillator screeching out harsh noise whirring, but when the bow slips, the unmistakable sound of violin strings peeks through. This dichotomy is intoxicating because fluke-mogul keeps my brain guessing at what is actually going on.
Quiet space moves through “gnosis” and fluke-mogul’s intricate plucks and fretwork after a bout of slow attacking drones. The hollowness that pervades this space is uncomfortable, each aural poke adding to the growing unease and diminishing the will to turn away. As they tap out miniature rhythms on the violin body, “gnosis” is almost snuffed out. It’s a false dawn, though, and when the discordant, cathartic bowing finally breaks through and wears down the last of the jagged pieces. Over its 11 minutes, “gnosis” is utterly transfixing.
threshold is such an apt title because this album has gone so far beyond what seems possible with this single instrument. When fluke-mogul roughshod over peaks and valleys on “kairos,” they are writing their own manuscript and creating a language all their own. They communicate so much raw emotion with their violin and intermittent vocalizations that each time I listen to threshold, it commands further attention and exploration. This is one of my favorite albums so far this year.
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