Pauline Kim Harris has become a major phenomenon in New York's avant-garde milieu, and her work has taken her around the world as a virtuoso violinist and collaborator with leading artists and ensembles. Joining forces with composer and sound designer Spencer Topel, Harris has created two inspiring works for Heroine, a 2019 Sono Luminus release: Ambient Chaconne, a reworking of Johann Sebastian Bach's Chaconne in D minor, and Deo, another ambient piece, based Johannes Ockeghem's 36-part canon, Deo Gratias. These acoustic-electronic arrangements create a transcendent mood, expanding the original material into myriad combinations and resonances that suggest a metaphysical understanding of the potential of ambient music. Harris has dedicated these pieces to loved ones who have suffered in this chaotic and disturbing time, and the soothing nature of her music is intended to heal, rather than challenge or divide. Ambient Chaconne preserves much of the sonorities and musical shapes of Bach's original, though over its 42-minute duration, the music evolves and takes on a mystical, expansive feeling that goes beyond a solo violin's power to convey the infinite. Deo, with its multiple layers of Ockeghem's canon treated as a loop of thousands of parts, suggests an angelic choir in all its brightness and beauty. Both works, with their contrasting hues of darkness and light, give this album a balanced program that will fascinate and move many listeners.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson