Fabrics and music have an obviously sensuous connection: Think of weaving, texture, soft and strong qualities. Prince Edward Island-raised composer Monica Pearce, who is now based in the U.S., explores these links in her excellent debut album, Textile Fantasies, which features a cycle of eight works written for a variety of instrumental combinations. While piano and percussion are the core, other instruments, including Pearce’s beloved toy piano, make vivid appearances.
Each movement focuses on one fabric. Denim features solid unison rhythms in the percussion ensemble, suggesting the strength of this ubiquitous fabric, while castanet duets represent the rivets on jeans. Silks, by contrast, is soft and luxurious, with a jazzy feeling and waves of colour. In Chain Maille, we can imagine the knight (music nerds might think of “L’homme armé”) marching off in clinking armour. The intricate drumming and piano figurations in Damask suggest the qualities of that fabric. Houndstooth features a pleasing contrast of dissonance and consonance, offset with flourishes like loose threads. The aggressive and rhythmic Leather offers belt-like thuds in the prepared piano that pair well with the resonant percussion. Velvet has a mysterious, flowing quality, while Toile de jouy is pleasingly intricate, full of woven contrapuntal textures.
Barbara Pritchard, Shawn Mativetsky, Cheryl Duvall, Wesley Shen, and TorQ Percussion Quartet are among the accomplished Canadian performers featured on the album. The tracks share an energy, a rhythmic drive that propels the listener through each exciting sound–fabric exploration.