Love is harsh. Visceral. A cocoon and a screaming stitch. gabby fluke-mogul’s follow-up to last year’s threshold (one of my favorite albums of 2021) is invigorating in a different way, but just as impactful. Their music has always been saturated with vulnerability and openness, but on LOVE SONGS that spirit is held closer. fluke-mogul puts so much raw emotion into their playing that it becomes infectious. They are a conduit.
LOVE SONGS features 17 “violin compositions for improvisation” that range from quiet and introspective to supernova aural explosiveness. Further, fluke-mogul describes the pieces as “devoted to the multitudinous hues of intimacy,” and it’s in that space where inward meditations become rare sonic numina. Moments can be universes. “II” is pensive and winding, fluke-mogul’s voice following the river or strings. Stops and starts. Closer and closer still. Breaths linger in the quick scratches and howling runs filling the room with tension.
fluke-mogul’s playing is as physical as ever on LOVE SONGS, even when they explore the stillness of simply being near. Careening from melodic transmissions to ceremonial stretches, “IIII” stands to bear the harsh beginnings before melting into gentle plucks and scrapes, each note pulling us closer and closer. The notes barely register above a whisper; an invitation to lean in. “IIIII” sits in lyrical admiration, painting woozy whimsical sonnets before being overrun by crushing realizations. The shiny surface glistens with impermanence, but the deeper affection growls doused by hot coals and impossible intensity.
There are times when LOVE SONGS holds back like “III” examining the secret unspoken languages we sometimes share. Circular avoidance hangs heavy on “IIIIIIII,” searching for something that can’t be found but determined to keep going all the same. “IIIIIIIIIII” burns without constraint. fluke-mogul’s violin is struggling to break free, using cathartic spells to prod a seemingly impermeable veil. Their voice lets go. The simmering sentiments overflow encompassing every layer and crevice. “IIIIIIIIIIII” is bound tight.
Recorded in a single day last summer, LOVE SONGS is another powerful statement to one of the most important voices in improvised music. Each short spell is a velvet hammer blow, holding listeners with distinctive devotions while simultaneously breaking them down to granular bits. This music is soft and brutal. The tiniest gestures blossom into supernatural essences that gabby fluke-mogul channels into close connective magic. From there we can feel everything.