On Friday 6th August, British composer Alex Groves releases Curved Form (No. 11) – his second EP and a collaboration with cellist Gabriella Swallow. Featured on the EP is the title track written for cello and electronics alongside remixes from Mira Calix, Sarah Davachi and Alex himself.
Curved Form (No. 11) is a sonic tapestry woven from slowly evolving cello lines and electronic delays. Starting on the very lowest notes of the cello, it ebbs and flows as it weaves its way across the instrument’s range, ending up in a crystalline cloud of harmonics.
Written for and recorded by cellist Gabriella Swallow, the piece takes its inspiration from the undulating patterns of artist Bridget Riley and the sinuous curved forms of sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Evoking their sense of motion, repetition and form, it creates an all-consuming environment where waves of sound constantly layer, coalesce and dissipate.
Alongside the original are three remixes from Mira Calix, Sarah Davachi and Alex himself – each taking the piece in a different direction. Mira Calix’s Movement in Squares remix references both Riley and Hepworth as it chops up the original into a glitchy, beat-driven track. Speaking about her version, she said: ‘I listened to the piece as was, but I didn’t immerse myself in it deliberately, I wanted to feel free to take it down a new path. For the past year, I’ve really immersed myself in the world of collage, and by extension of my current mindset – I deployed a lot of the same methodology. I was quite free and impressionistic with the original cello lines, I really cut into them.’
Sarah Davachi on the other hand has explored the negative space in the original, stripping away the layers to reveal the subtle inflections under the surface. She said of the process that: ‘Often when I hear music that sounds very full and lush, there is something in my ear that wants to hear and understand what is beneath it, what the sort of root component is that’s moving the feeling in the piece. […] Of course, once you begin that process of removal, the experience becomes about something much more and different than what is simply essential.’
Finally, Alex flips the piece on its head by turning its stretched-out drones into shimmering, pulsing synths. He said of his remix: ‘I wanted to create a track that does almost the exact opposite of the original. For me, the piece creates this floating sensation – as if everything becomes somehow unmoored and you just get wrapped up in the process unfolding in front of you. In my remix, I wanted to make something grounded, something that coursed through you and made you want to move.’
Curved Form (No. 11) will be released on Friday 6th August to coincide with the next Bandcamp Friday. It will be available across all streaming platforms and can be pre-ordered from Bandcamp now.