Composers: Satie, Rameau, Marais, Rossi, Uccellini, Erlebach
Performers: Latitude 37
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You’ll have a hard time tearing me away from Latitude 37’s new release: it’s the best album I’ve heard all year. I hadn’t expected to unearth such a treasure in X. The album art seemed curious, comical, and a little country and western: our musicians Julia Fredersdorff (baroque violin), Donald Nicolson (harpsichord and organ), and Laura Vaughan (viola da gamba and lirone) are pictured in black and white before a bucking horse or holding instruments in a dusty barn. But, while this old-time theme appeared ambitious, I listened to the opening Bulgarjaska 1 & 2 and realised I’d missed the point entirely.

The music is immediately stark, with minimal instrumentation, generating a sense of complete seriousness and raw isolation. At once light, folk-like, and incredibly intense, its visual representation suddenly makes sense. A standout is Satie’s Troisième Gnossienne – a genius Latitude 37 arrangement that captures the nostalgia of a familiar work while breathing into it an equally vibrant new life. Almost every work here is arranged by the group, which may explain the consistency in mood as well as the remarkable chemistry among this collection of musical talent (with some fine guests, too). While so many artists work to preserve an existing perception of music, Latitude 37 has done something truly adventurous and surprisingly rare: the ensemble has used sounds of the past to help us discover something new.

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