Liverpool duo Constellations combine multi-instrumentation to stunning effect, Getintothis’ Peter Guy can’t stop harping on about it.
‘I’m thinking of learning the cello,’ said Andrew.
This is first time anyone has ever said those words, in that order, to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly up for more cello players in the world, but the mere notion of learning how to play one is right up there with ski jumping. Or perhaps even tobogganing. Or curling. Indeed, almost all Winter Olympic sports. The cello is beautiful, but almost otherworldly in my concept of picking up an instrument and attempting to play it – so my friend’s declaration in Bold Street Coffee on an indistinct Thursday evening kind of caught me a little off guard.
However. If the cello seems a tad preposterous, what then the HARP?
HARPS are such an elaborate music making device it can take a skilled musician almost four and a half years to simply tune the strings. If you snap one (harps have approximately 51 strings; unless Jimmy Page is playing one, in which case they have around 127) you could be waiting until the next season rolls by before you’re able to play it again. And even then, you may have forgotten how to play it in the interim. Also, have you ever tried lifting a HARP? I haven’t but they look pretty heavy and it’s not like a bass, you can hardly go slinging it in the back of your van while on tour and expect it to be in one piece when you reach Keele services.
It’s quite simply the only reason why Joanna Newsom is a noted musician: she is modern music’s Queen of the HARP. Forget her incredible voice, insatiable way with words, fantastical style and medieval-progressive bent with melody – if she were playing an acoustic guitar she’d be little more than a footnote on the third stage at Green Man Festival.
The HARP is a status symbol for mythological Gods who have transported their infinite nous via the wings of Pegasus to contemporary music makers to pluck and show off their higher-plateau of finger wizardry. Yes, the chosen few, are HARPISTS.
Arise Rebecca Sharp – noted screenwriter, poet and HARP player of the Glasgow via Liverpool parish. In recent times, Ms Sharp has teamed up with former SSS, sometime Down And Outs maestro Mark Magill on new vehicle Constellations, to create Airs Above The Ground – one of the finest pieces of music we’ve heard all year.
Soft rhythmic pulses trade with electrical glitches, fizzing cymbals, treated Michael Rother-like guitar all the while guided by a stunning HARP motif which courses right the way through. It’s hypnotic, almost-Morricone in it’s cyclical cascading waves which build until Magill’s drenched vocal hush fades out and that superlative fuzzy guitar lick kicks in. Stunning.
There’s more to explore on their recent EP released via long-time Getintothis‘ favourites Edils. Check their debut EP below- we recommend the beautiful 6-minuter Ghosts Of Chicago.