Echoes September CD of the Month: Digitonal-Save Your Light For Darker Days

What do you do when you’re a classical musician, but you fall in love with 90s electronica and technology? The band called Digitonal took their symphonic instruments and plugged in, and in the process have made a powerful and moving work of ambient chamber music called Save Your Light for Darker Days.

You can also hear an Audio Review of this album, with music.

Digitonal was formed in 1997 around Andy Dobson. He was supposed to be a classical clarinet player but was drawn to electronica bands like Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and Orbital. It wasn’t until 2001 and a song called “Come and Play” that Digitonal found its voice. That’s when Saudi Arabian-born violinist Samy Bishai came on board. Bishai had already abandoned his classical career, opting to play jazz and world music. You can also hear him on a new CD with Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita.

The Silimbo PassageAs Digitonal, Dobson and Bishai marry their love for modern classical music from Steve Reich to Arvo Pärt, with chilled electronic grooves and soulful, Samuel Barber-like moods. Andy Dobson finds a distinctive voice for his clarinet that veers more toward a soprano saxophone timbre. His lead line on “93 Years On” begins smokey and melancholic before turning into a blistering cry of luxurious anguish.

Digitonal has passages of both serene classical beauty and glitch strewn grooves. If you hear a symphonic strings in their music, it’s always Samy Bishai whether it’s a single violin or 87 of them, overdubbed and looped. He adds the searing chamber sound to tracks like “Silver Poetry,” soloing in a quietly rhapsodic style over Dobson’s syncopated grooves.

Digitonal call their music “cinematic electronica” and on their new album, Save Your Light for Darker Days, they go widescreen with a soundtrack of classical elegance and often wistful moods. Many of the titles have a sense of yearning, loss and nostalgia, but they are all tempered by the darkness of Blade Runner moods. No surprise there, since Andy Dobson cites Vangelis‘ score to Ridley Scott’s dark sci-fi thriller as the best soundtrack ever.

Digitonal’s Save Your Light for Darker Days is our Echoes CD of the Month for September.  You can hear an Audio Review with music.

John Diliberto ((( Echoes )))

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