Sarah Neufeld: Hero Brother (Constellation) album review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 24th, 2019  

Sarah Neufeld

Hero Brother

Constellation

Sep 11, 2013 Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT Bookmark and Share


As the "main" violinist (Marika Shaw is absent in studio, as is multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett on tour) in Arcade Fire, Sarah Neufeld is a central player in the band's enormous, cinematic sound. Admittedly she, along with the majority of the band, is often overshadowed by the more high-profile lead duo of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, but her work has always been key to the band's most important songs, the likes of "No Cars Go" and "Rebellion (Lies)"; her violin is the first instrument to be heard on Funeral's opener "Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)."

Those familiar with Neufeld's work with the Canadian septet, or even with post punk instrumentalists Bell Orchestra and indie rockers The Luyas, are likely to be surprised at the minimalist approach taken on Hero Brother.

It's only when you consider the influence of neo-classical composer Nils Frahm, with whom this album was recorded, that its aesthetic seems to make sense. It's a distinctly minimalist piece, and the fact that it was recorded in the cavernous climes of an abandoned Berlin geodesic dome and underground parking garage, as well as an orchestral hall, is immediately apparent. Whether listening to the gently plucked strings on "They Live On" or the slightly giddy swelling, ebbing likes of "Hero Brother" or "Wrong Thought," you get the sense that you're watching a performer alone, from afar.

There isn't a huge amount of virtuosity on display, so in order to keep the listener's attention Neufeld is clearly drawing from a pool of influences, from Frahm to Arthur Russell, and on the more haunting moments there are hints of Krzysztof Penderecki. The result is an album so fragile it feels as though to whisper during it is to risk shattering porcelain; it's not exciting, but intimate and beautiful. (www.sarahneufeldmusic.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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