Build - Place | Album review
Brooklyn chamber-rock outfit brings the riffs
Brooklyn is awash with young composers intent on dissolving the line between chamber music and instrumental rock. Borough-based composer Matt McBane has managed to sidestep the well-worn track with his second album, Place, which crams everything from modal jazz, electronica and American fiddle music between the bookends of post-classical and post-rock.
Whereas the quintet’s self-titled debut focused on a standard setup of violin, cello, piano, bass and drums, Place is crafted from a bolder palette that sounds more confident and flexible. McBane isn’t afraid to break the quintet down into a trio subset on tracks like “Swelter,” and replaces the drum set with a vibraphone and concert bass drum to provide an ominous backdrop to the agitated strings on “Anchor.”
True to his ensemble’s name, McBane took an architectural approach to the structure of the album, conceiving it as three chapters (of three songs each) that form a thematic arch. Each track is inspired by a specific physical or emotional place—whether it be bike rides in Manhattan with an ex-girlfriend (“Ride”), the humidity of California’s Anza-Borrego Desert (“Swelter”) or the punk energy of all-ages rock shows in San Diego (“Dissolve”). However, it’s the final chapter—which the 32-year-old violinist and composer says is related to changes in his personal life that occurred during the writing of the album—that packs the strongest emotional punch. The final track, “Maintain,” funnels a buildup of violin power-chord tension into a somber piano melody that meanders into the horizon, unresolved.