VIRTUOSIC CELLIST ERIK FRIEDLANDER
DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM GUITAR, BANJO TECHNIQUES
TAKING OUT NEW TERRITORY WITH BLOCK ICE & PROPANE
"THE MELODIES DAZZLE AND HYPNOTIZE AND FLOAT"
- JOHN DARNIELLE OF THE MOUNTAIN GOATS
Erik Friedlander Block Ice & Propane (August 14/Skipstone Records) redefines what the cello can be expected to do. The celebrated cellist uses techniques common to the banjo and guitar--"I was interested in exploring the American sensibility--a practical, unadorned approach," he says. The resulting sound breaks startling new ground.
The process began when he put down the bow. Friedlander recalls, "I was a guitar player before I took up the cello in third grade and it seems I've always had a knack for pizzicato and fingerpicking. I had always thought that bowing should be the main way to play the cello, but I've changed my thinking now."
Friedlander drew inspiration from the months long camping trips across America he took as a child in a 1966 Chevrolet pickup and shell. "For some time now, memories of those summer trips, the pick-up truck, the National Parks, the campgrounds, have been filtering up into my consciousness."
"I dug up Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music and the threads starting weaving together," he continues. "King Rig" was directly inspired by guitarist Jim Jackson's 1928 recording of "Old Dog Blue."
For the ringing "King Rig" and the propulsive, autumnal "Night White," Friedlander ran into a challenge. "I found I couldn't have the open, folk quality I wanted unless I was using at least a few open strings on the cello," he says. "So I rediscovered something guitar players know all about and do all the time--alternative tunings. By lowering and sometimes raising the tuning of the open cello strings I found I could create sonic worlds that drove my writing in a new direction."
Friedlander's fellow musicians are already raving about Block Ice & Propane. John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats said, "There's a breathtaking lyricism at work in these new tunes, but it's infused with an almost breezy touch: like swirling dust in beams of light, the melodies dazzle and hypnotize and float along on their own currents. Emotional but never sentimental, profound but without pretension -- these songs wordlessly communicate more easily and openly than a dozen singer-songwriters furiously scribbling in notebooks."
You can hear music from Block Ice & Propane HERE.
Erik Friedlander tour dates available HERE.