Consider the Pomegranate, as photographer Will Rockel has done with the unnerving album art for Quarterly's latest recording. A choice piece of fruit, ripened in the seaside sun, filled with little pods of blood red juice, eagerly waiting to run down your chin or ruin a white shirt - in other words something sinister underneath the refined exterior. Here, in the album art, flayed and stripped surgeon-like of its skin, the pom calls to mind a small planet, an alien habitat bursting apart as it is held, menacingly, between two fists. This is the dichotomy of Quarterly's music, not necessarily obvious to the casual listener - though it's easy to call their finely rendered cello-and-guitar duets "beautiful" (and you'd be right), there is an air of the ominous, a fine edge of the apocalyptic, to the loveliness they vibrate out of their strings, not unlike the band playing on as the ship goes down.
The Pomegranate EP finds the instrumental duo Quarterly taking a step back from the expansive atmospheric sound of their full-length album to build more delicate compositions, pieces that are more spacious and spontaneous, music that feels as it is being conjured up right in front of you. Trading in steel strings for nylon, the guitar takes on an airy, classical posture while the cello rises to a more prominent place as an aching, melodic driver, sometimes doubling up on itself, the harmonies appearing like sun-faded ghosts. Inspired in part by the sunset crags of Andalucía, the EP supplies movements and melodies with themes of repetition, intimacy, and evocations of place. There is space on the record, you can hear the air in the room where they play.
The album begins with the ambulatory, disorienting chord progression of 'Sueño Americano'- an attempt to convey a feeling of being lost in one's own country (while exploring another) in the days after the 2016 election. 'Catherine Wheel' takes a medieval torture device as its inspiration, the guitar clicking into a circular rhythm that provides the spokes for Drymala's pointed musings. The center of the album, a lyrical slow-build of arpeggiated chords and climbing cello lines, hints at the ruby multitudes of that eponymous fruit of Grenada, while '2060 Chiron' takes a look at a deep-space object; its tranquil drift interrupted before slinging its orbit into the jaunty improvisation of 'Bandalore'.
Lovely, cinematic, and evocative of an unremembered time in another place, Pomegranate finds Quarterly doing more with less, and savoring the semi-sinister sweetness.
released March 20, 2020
Pomegranate was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth, the Thousand Caves in Woodhaven, Queens.
Kristen Drymala: cello
Christopher DiPietro: guitar, hammered lap steel
All songs by Drymala/DiPietro
Quarterly make American instrumental music influenced by folk and classical traditions imbued with a
vivid depth of field and quiet intensity. Christopher DiPietro and Kristen Drymala (Gem Club) create lyrical vignettes built on intricate guitar-work and soaring cello lines. Natives of Maryland, they are currently active in Brooklyn, NY....more
This is a beautiful, sonically stunning record and is the perfect antidote to the depressing, troubled times we find ourselves in. Knishkowy’s finest songs immersed in layers of stunning guitar work and stellar musicianship from all involved. Clearly made with love, and filled with it. Kevin Tarn