29 September 2023
By Ellie Palmer
New album 'Polarity' is out now on all major streaming platforms
Released earlier this month, ‘Polarity’ is a collaborative album between chamber trio Pathos Trio, and composers Ian Chang, Phong Tran, Andrew M. Rodriguez, Vicente Hansen Atria, Paul Mortilla and Clara Warnaar. It is dedicated to presenting newly commissioned works for two percussionists, piano, and electronics. The album is a follow-up to the group's first album, 'When Dark Sounds Collide' (2022).
Will Healy (left), Marcelina Suchocka (centre) and Felix Reyes (right)
'Polarity' is a fitting name for an album that manages to connect a multitude of genres and styles together into one project. This chamber music trio, made up of percussionists Marcelina Suchocka and Felix Reyes, and pianist Will Healy, succeeds in altering what many of us will automatically envision when we think of the phrase 'chamber music'. The tradition of chamber music was first established in the late 1700s and early 1800s during the so-called Viennese Classic Era. Our immediate thought turns to classical chamber music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and others.
But the actual definition of 'chamber music' is much more inclusive than many of us realise. It simply refers to a small ensemble that doesn't traditionally include solo instrument performances.
And here is 'Polarity', an album of chamber music that combines post-rock, electronic synth-wave, alternative rock, metal and more with aesthetics heard in contemporary classical music. It works.
This is a multi-dimensional album full of flavour and drama. Two standouts from the six-track album are ‘PITY’, a work commissioned by Andrew M. Rodriguez, and ‘21600’, commissioned by Paul Mortilla.
‘PITY’ is described by Pathos Trio as a piece ‘blending, distorting, and contorting acoustic and electronic sounds that blur the lines between harmony and rhythm.’ A description almost identical to what I have written about this piece before I even came across this quote.
What impressed me most about this piece is the one instrument that rises above the multitude of harmonies and rhythms on display; the piano. Pianist Will Healy takes centre stage, weaving his way through the piece with his echoing staccato melodies, playing marco polo with the mid and high registers of the keyboard.
'21600' is perhaps the most experimental on the album, combining electronic layers that pull and push and distort, with heavily jazz-influenced piano chords alongside percussion that has you questioning what the time signature of the track even is. It's a fascinating puzzle of a piece.
‘Home/Gone’, a poppy closing to the album commissioned by Clara Warnaar, completes my personal top three.
The complexity of this album meant the producers and engineers had a tough task, but they passed the test with flying colours. Bravo to them for managing to maintain balance throughout the album.
What's next for the group?
Pathos Trio has submitted ‘Polarity’ for not one but FOUR Grammys ahead of February’s 66th edition of the awards show. We wish them the best of luck.
Find out more about the group here.