The U.S. Christmas violinist's new drone ensemble brings together multiple musicians in pursuit of experimental bliss
Meg Mulhearn is probably most familiar to our readers of as the violinist who gave North Carolina psych metal project U.S. Christmas so much of its cosmic soul, or perhaps as the sole sonic wizard behind Divine Circles' Appalachian dream loops. She's an undoubtedly prolific, genre-agnostic musician in her own right, but put Mulhearn in a room with any number of other musicians, and—as her newest endeavor, the Void Ensemble, shows—magic happens. The project's first two songs hang heavy with fuzz and distortion, looping in and around themselves like a basket of tiny, furry snakes; "Void I" and "Gathering" are both calm, hypnotic, and more than a little ecstatic, percolating sleepily within the black velvet atmosphere.
The Void Ensemble brings together a vast variety of musicians from across the United States. "Void I" includes the contributions of Matthew Azevedo (guitar), Elisa Faires (voices, effects), Josh Holt (guitar), Charles Howes (synth), Patrick Kukucka (arranger, bandoneon), Dash Lewis (voices, effects), David Lynch (arranger, synth), Kimathi Moore (field recordings, samples), and Mulhearn on violin, while "Gathering" was written by Meg Mulhearn in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Sara Baird for Baird's dance piece, "Godai" and recorded live during the performance. The whole project was supported supported by the N.C. Arts Council, and came to fruition after many months of collaboration.
As Meg Mulhearn told Noisey, "One of the many concepts we explored in 'Gathering' was the 'the void,' and I wanted to explore this further. For this project, it made sense to work together with a group of musicians that I felt shared a similar approach.I provided some minimal guidelines, and based the piece around a gradual transition between the beginning and ending drones from "Gathering," and then Dave Lynch and I used their recordings to put the piece together. The other musicians composed their pieces largely in a vacuum, so I was really excited to see what they would make. In the end, I think we had 43 tracks to work with, so there was a lot of material, but the arrangement and mixing process felt very straightforward once we started really listening."
"The plan for the future is to have each member of Void Ensemble compose a solo piece and ensemble piece, like this first record, so we hopefully have at least 9 albums and more than a decade's worth of collaboration as an ensemble ahead of us. It's the beginning of a very long term project."
Listen below, and order the album from Sequel here.
Kim Kelly is staring into the void on Twitter.