Album review: AVAWAVES – Chrysalis (Anna Phoebe/Aisling Brouwer)

AVAWAVES - Chrysalis

One Little Independent Records [Release date 08.10.21]

The return of Anna Phoebe!!   She contributed a track to our Rising Stars sampler in 2007.  She has performed with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  She was special guest of Jethro Tull (2009) and gave Ian Anderson a run for his money.  Well, to be honest she looked more appealing.  Then she married BBC Newsnight presenter (and prog rock fan) Gavin Essler.  And then, like Essler, she slipped off the radar.

Now with pianist/film composer Aisling Brouwer she has fashioned a rather wonderful instrumental album (save for one track ‘Midnight Bird’ with singer YVA).  It’s full of drama and twists and turns, with Phoebe providing the reflective and stirring string sounds to electronic beats and tinkly piano supplied by Brouwer.

It works really well.  At times I was reminded of Ed Alleyne-Johnson, famed for his city centre busking and work with New Model Army.  Lovers of violin led rock should check out his Oxford Suite but his own erudite bowing sometimes palls over an extended period and the initial listener euphoria (and novelty) soon wears off.

Avawaves on the other hand doesn’t outstay its welcome and the violin/piano is a good combination providing an irresistible emotional heft.  The duo actually released their debut ‘Waves’ in 2019 having met up several years earlier.

There is a certain sameness to some of the Avawaves tracks, in fact melded together they could form a suite;   ‘Chrysalis’, ‘Danu’ and ‘Before The Wake’  for example  (although all standouts).  But overall the album succeeds by offering an immersive melancholic soundtrack to our current malaise and uncertainty.  ****

Review by David Randall

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