DISCovery - Raphael Weinroth-Browne
The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach.
The range of styles ProgBlog has been exposed to through this route has helped to expand and challenge my listening habits but time constraints have meant that not all submissions have received the attention that they deserve.
The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music.
If the cello isn’t an obvious prog instrument it’s certainly not a standard one, though I first saw cello mentioned on the liner notes of the eponymous Refugee album from 1974, played by Lee Jackson. Not too long after, I heard it featured on Gentle Giant albums played by Kerry Minnear and towards the end of the 70s Georgie Born (who had replaced John Greaves in Henry Cow) was invited to join National Health, having augmented Dave Stewart’s band with a chamber-prog feel on Of Queues and Cures. Much more recently cellists have been getting greater exposure, possibly catalysed by the incredible talent of Sheku Kanneh-Mason, when the 2019 Progressive Music Limelight Award went to Jo Quail and Destinazioni, my album of 2019, includes supplementary cello.
Norwegian prog-metallers Leprous seconded Canadian cellist-composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne (The Visit, Musk Ox, Kamancello) and now he has just released a solo cello work Worlds Within that employs effects and loops to create a dense, swirling and compelling soundscape, a 40-minute piece of music subdivided into ten movements that Weinroth-Browne has described as the soundtrack to a life cycle, beginning from an unending ether (Unending I), emerging into innocence and wonder (From Within), growing into self-awareness (From Above) followed by chaos and upheaval (Tumult), resolving to peace (Fade [Afterglow]), and returning to the infinite (Unending II). The Unending were composed to feel timeless and to reflect the passing of time from the perspective of nature whereas the inner sections to have a fast-paced momentum, embodying human subjectivity and impatience, employing both bowing and pizzicato.
Weinroth-Browne references contemporary classical minimalism, metal, post-rock and electronic music, but Worlds Within is something more than a sum of these categories where he moves into Fripp-like soundscape territory and the music gradually follows divergent strands before recreating itself in different forms. The cyclical nature of the composition is admirably captured in the exquisite cover art which seems to convey both the formless unendings and the chaos and entropy. His soundscape approach differs from Jo Quail who, certainly on Exsolve, is responsible for a more rock form (Forge – Of Two Forms; Mandrel Cantus) or a mixture of straightforward contemporary classical solo cello and psychedelia (Causleen’s Wheel).
Worlds Within is a well-conceived, well-executed and well-produced piece of music. Prog cello is now firmly on the map
Raphael Weinroth-Browne - From Within (official video)
Raphael Weinroth-Browne - Worlds Within