Electric violinist Hugh Marsh’s impressively varied list of collaborations includes projects with Bruce Cockburn, Bauhaus’s Peter Murphy, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Iggy and The Stooges, the film scores of Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams, and—most recently—recordings with Joseph Shabason and Jon Hassell. It was the latter who instigated the oblique strategy behind Marsh’s latest solo release: to spontaneously compose one piece of music every day for six months, all completed before 10 a.m. The results of this sunrise exercise are every bit as wide-ranging as Marsh’s credits, showcasing the vast sonic possibilities of his electronically processed strings and bow.
The origin of Violinvocations resides in Marsh's travelling from Toronto to Los Angeles for an unrelated project before learning of its cancellation. Having recently ended a long-term relationship, he decided to remain for a sojourn with Hassell during his downtime. The attendant displaced feelings may explain the mournful sound of “I Laid Down In The Snow,” opening the album with washes of static and gorgeous wraithlike shimmers. The ghosts are soon replaced by something even stranger. “Miku Murmuration” takes its title from an effect pedal emulating anime pop star Hatsune Miku, whose Vocaloid cries return to haunt “Da Solo Non Solitaro.” On “Thirtysix Hundred Grandview,” Marsh travels from plucky pizzicatos to Hassell-style fourth-world fantasias, before “A Beautiful Mistake” dive-bombs into an orchestra pit of alien Hendrix riffs.
The heartrending “She Will” returns to earth with the only song fully recognizable as the album’s titular instrument, dedicated to Marsh’s mother, who tragically passed away shortly after its completion. Though the tracks stretch past nine minutes, these juxtapositions of lovelorn instrumental laments and playful sound sculpting don’t rest in one place for long, which is fitting for a man of Marsh’s singularly sweeping vocation.