Lia Kohl - Too Small To Be A Plain
Is cello the best instrument? My thoughts on the matter change daily, but it might be the view on which i'm settled today with Too Small To Be A Plain, the debut LP from Chicago-based composer, sound artist and, yes, cellist, Lia Kohl. Originally issued last year on cassette by Shinkoyo/Artist Pool, Kohl now finds herself amidst the complimentary environs of Florabelle, who bring the collection to vinyl for the first time. Kohl's work makes great sense on Florabelle, a label with a brief but notable history of finely-tuned but probing composition and quiet wonder. The aforementioned cello takes centre stage here, though it's utilised in unexpected ways, a combination of improvisations, layering and MIDI synthesis, embellished with various field recordings, drones and electronic textures. Kohl has a history of collaboration with some especially meaningful players, most instructive of which here, perhaps, is with claire rousay, with whom she shares a similar skill for intuitive ambience - in fact, a lot of Too Small To Be A Plain is said to rely on improvisational digressions, a kind of spontaneous composition i'd suppose, which isn't too far off how i hear rousay's reflexive style of domestique concrete. Kohl is alone here, though i guess you could argue that the choice to leave in 'happy' accidents might constitute a collaboration with herself, responding to her own human limits, then bending into the unknown. Somehow, the cello, with its arcing, enveloping sonority, feels well suited to exploring such spaces.
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