Toronto’s Rat-Drifting label has long been committed to releasing sneakily hybridized and organically concept-informed music. Work that is deliciously fraught with odd details and the idiosyncrasies of the community from which it springs.
Cameron’s compositional and improvisatory styles are highly compatible with the label’s balance of diversity and a particular aesthetic focus. She has long been active as acomposer of chamber music, creating quietly bold and economical pieces, often with a transparently melodic orientation. As an improviser she tends to explore a certain rarefied genus of textures that are somehow both brittle and murky.
The six pieces here stand at the intersection of Cameron’s particular brand of unhurried “small-m” minimalism, the resonances and modal language of folk music, and loose dry textural improvisation practiced among her and her peers.
Her band, in which she works with two adept improviser-composers, Stephen Parkinson and Eric Chenaux, permits her to realize the concerns of composition and improvisational work simultaneously. Applied to a core instrumentation of banjo, guitars, and harmonicas, her lean interlocking melodic ideas and sophisticated, decidedly leisurely rhythmic figurations, are inflected with the timbral palette of her improvisations.
The warmth and precision of Jeff McMurrich’s recording perfectly renders the sound world traced by the musician. And this is not an easy task for a producer, for the usual inclination might be to accentuate the full resonances of the string instruments at the expense of delicate plectrum attacks, fret squeaks, and the hiss of the amplifiers.
Consistent with the rest of Rat-Drifting’s catalogue, this disc is both strong and cohesive, presenting Camerons’s unique voice along with that of the label itself.