Decibels (Lanreb Music)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Feb. 27, 2009
Steve BernalDecibels (Lanreb Music)
Patience is clearly one of Steve Bernal's finest virtues. On Decibels, the longtime local cellist and bassist's fourth album, his neoclassical compositions nurture the space they require. His technique is sparse yet demanding and intensely personal; nothing feels forced or rushed, all of which works in favor of meditative opener "Hidden," for three cellos and bass. "Dreams and Concrete," written and performed with Loren Dent, introduces electric guitar and drums over a 19-minute arc that rattles and hums, while the four-part "Suite for Solo Cello and Subsonic Continuo" achieves a full spectrum of style and sound. Bernal takes a more contemporary approach to "Pluto: Requiem for an Icy World," his lone cello strum slower and more pensive, at times giving way to stretches of a digital, lunar landscape, as if searching for solace amidst the vast emptiness.