Trem is Rhodri Davies' first solo album, and it stands as one big achievement. There are many misconceptions circulating about the harp. Furthermore, in avant-garde circles, a harpist attempting to find his or her own voice has to struggle with the towering presence of Zeena Parkins, who, while setting the instrument free of its quiet-angelic-fragile-girlish attributes, imposed another set of parameters as to what experimental harp music should sound like. Davies' music is the antithesis of Parkins. Quiet, attentive to detail, often minimalist in means if not in essence, it engages the listener with a bag of riddles rather than overt challenges. Davies' harp is polymorphic. It can evoke a violin (Phil Durrant's), a cello (Mark Wastell's), a piano played inside out (Reinhold Friedl's), bowed metal or percussion (Michael Vorfeld's, to name just one). And yet through all these shapes, it retains a unique essence, a personality that allows the acquainted listener to identify it almost immediately. This essence resides in the color of its strings ("Undur"), in the sound they make when they are scraped or bowed ("Berant"), but most of all in Davies' sense of space. These seven pieces were recorded at the St. Michael and All Angels Church. Half of his actions as a musician consist of pausing to let the sound just played fill the air, bounce off the walls, and vanish. Some pieces (like "Atam") explore microscopic dynamics and sounds associated with the onkyo scene, but elsewhere (as in "Cresis") the artist shows he can put a lot of stamina in his effort to turn the harp into something...else. This album is not for the faint of heart, but it offers a more comfortable listening experience than you might imagine.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture