In her discordance, Roberts evokes a world that has gone wrong – perhaps an unintentional precursor to the lost year of 2020. Recorded in 2019, there is an underlying tension that captures our pre-pandemic malaise and anxiety. She is percussive, using the body of the cello to create impacts that blend into scraping, scratching, and squeaking. Accompanying these are loops and echoes, long-held notes, and dense multi-tracked drones. Over four tracks varying in length from about five minutes to over seventeen, Roberts employs traditional bowing and plucking, extended techniques, and electronic processing to create a multi-layered set. Her more aggressive playing parallels that of current events, in an expository rather than approving fashion. Often her manual playing takes a backing role to waves of noise walls. Writing about her music is a challenge, as she stretches the notions of what sounds her instrument should and can be used to make. AMN Reviews: Mariel Roberts – Armament (2021; Figureight Records)
February 19, 2021 ~ Mike
Armament is the third solo cello album from Mariel Roberts, and a follow-up to 2017’s Cartography. Indeed, it is not initially apparent that this is even a solo cello release. Melody gives way to texture and abstract forms, even as one might be able to identify a few individual notes that are either following a loose pattern or freely improvised. But what is most compelling about Armament is how well it works as a whole.