Already on the previous release I had the pleasure to review (EAM), Barry Schrader discussed his interest in timbre as a factor of musical development. On Fallen Sparrow, it has very much attained that status. Sound as such has become both a driving force as well as a source of meaning in itself: It accompanies the lyrics with precise strokes on Love, In Memoriam, provides sharp contrasts with the lyrically organic lines of the clarinet on Five Arabesques and charges between complimentary emulation and direct opposition in Ravel. On Fallen Sparrow (the piece), meanwhile, the embodied, designative and timbral meaning come together in perfect unison, the violin melody moves from agitated death cries to warm acceptance as the work deals with the four final stages of the bird’s life and the sounds fill in the unspoken gaps, the metaphysical implications, the silence.
Just as much as there are musical themes enveloping the entire record, the sound world Schrader has created is tightly defined and
recognisable. It certainly had to be with regards to the symbiosis between organic and electronic instruments in all the tracks contained here. This last point opens up another angle from which to regard “Fallen Sparrow”, namely as a distillation of highly personal human relationships, of finding the right partner for a music which requires experience, expertise and a pronounced sensitivity for the nuances that lie in playing with an “invisible orchestra”. “Through all of this journey”, Schrader concludes in the booklet, “there is a variety of musical means and intent that I hope will keep the listener engaged.” He might just as well have written: A variety of musical meanings.

Tobias Fischer, Tokafi