This release is a double introduction of sorts for me; first, for the chance to finally delve into a full recording of the work of Biliana Voutchkova, an interdisciplinary artist, violinist, performer, composer, improviser and curator from one of the countries I most enjoy visiting, Bulgaria (though she is based in Berlin these days). Second, it is nice to see that Café OTO in London have opened a record label called Takuroku. Considering that the venerable café has hosted so many musicians of exquisite quality throughout the years, it seems fitting that they would give a platform to someone as musically innovated and adventurous as Biliana.
The track itself is thirty-plus minutes of violin manipulation, partially recorded live and partially under lockdown conditions we’ve all had to suffer through the past year and a half. There are parts in this recording where Biliana’s voice is used as a counter-instrument, where she and the violin have a sort of dialogue. Piano makes an appearance around 4:15 into the piece, along with percussions of a few sorts (I’m not sure, but I could have sworn I heard a gong making an appearance here and there).
What I loved most was the economy of the piece. There are quiet parts, the way one has a conversation, and, during an important part of the discussion, there is a moment, a pause that stirs up a bit of tension. Avant-garde music this organic will keep Biliana’s name listed favorably among the best of new music.
Click on the album cover if you are interested in purchasing this album directly from Café OTO.