For the past 10 years, violinist Sarah Neufeld has been a brilliant accomplice to Montreal's indie rock scene. She's a full-time member of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, and recorded with the Luyas and Little Scream. So after establishing herself as an integral piece of other puzzles, Neufeld has finally released her own debut album. Hero Brother is a beautiful collection of experimental instrumental songs.
Talk about working a room. The overwhelming sensation of Sarah Neufeld's debut disc is the sonic sumptuousness of the recording environments, which feature seemingly infinite headspaces and warm blankets of wind noise. Such character could be a double-edged sword; she could playing anything and it would sound cool. But as any solo instrumentalist should be, Neufeld is incredibly sensitive to her surroundings.
Sarah Neufeld is used to having only a portion of the spotlight. Whether it be playing violin for Grammy winning global phenomenon Arcade Fire, or co-founding the instrumental ensemble Belle Orchestre, she’s a developed a habit of sharing the stage with others. For her debut solo album, Neufeld has ditched her friends and gone it alone, writing and recording songs purely for her violin.
Violinist and composer Sarah Neufeld's solo debut stands in stark contrast to her membership in Arcade Fire and the instrumental group Bell Orchestre. These 11 pieces (mostly for solo violin) range from just under two minutes to just over six. They showcase her instrumental dexterity, the universality of her taste, and influences that range from Steve Reich's early minimalism to Henry Flynt's raga violin aesthetics to Appalachian fiddle music.
Sarah Neufeld’s violin plays an essential role in Arcade Fire’s catalog, whether its the seething exploration behind the acoustic guitar intro of “Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)” or smooth sweeps accenting the melody of “Rebellion (Lies)”. Her debut solo effort, Hero Brother, vamps up the heat of her strums and manifests a dynamic world of haunted melodies and pristine neck work. Without the vast dynamics of a full band surrounding her, Neufeld’s biggest challenge for Hero Brother is making 45 minutes of violin music interesting.
The vibraphonist Warren Wolf has both feet planted on a bedrock of midcentury modern jazz, meaning its postwar peak of popular refinement. And however you feel about young musicians reaching for an older sound, it’s heartening to know that an album like “Wolfgang” — his second Mack Avenue release, due out on Tuesday — can still be made with such stalwart conviction. Hard-swinging and articulate, it spotlights Mr.