Yoed Nir creates Ambient Cello Orchestras: The Next Dream
Hear it featured tonight on Echoes
It’s a good time to be a cellist. Rock artists from Arcade Fire to Shawn Colvin are using them to provide just that right amount of elegant soul to their work. And the world of solo cellists continues to explode with Zoe Keating, Rena Jones, Jami Sieber, David Darling, Hans Christian and Matthew Schoening. Add Yoed Nir to that list. That’s a name you may not know yet, but you’ve probably heard him playing behind Regina Spektor, Rufus Wainwright, Judy Collins, Sonya Kitchell and Shawn Colvin.
“TIme Is Up”
Yoed Nir was born in Israel where he studied cello, played in orchestras and then moved to America and fell in with rockers like Spektor. His solo work is a bit different from that although elements of his personal style emerge in solo spots during Spektor’s concerts, and in his one-man string orchestra backing singer Yael Naim. Nir creates a world of sound by using multi-tracking and looping, most of it done in his own “Celloman studio,” better known as his bedroom.
Yoed Nir begins his second solo album auspiciously, with an adaptation of “Song of Songs” from the Old Testament, sung by Sonya Kitchell. Nir and Kitchell dig deep into this hymn to sexual yearning, with Nir creating sweeping cello orchestrations and Kitchell moaning in ecstasy. Is it a coincidence that the next song is “Devil’s Dance?” It’s a Bartok-like rave-up that charges into the breach, with Nir’s virtual orchestra creating a full string section from his looped and multi-tracked cello.
Nir is a truly contemporary musician immersed in the world of modern music, from classical to rock. To actually hear his influences, you have to pull the threads out as if they were woven into a Persian carpet. The spacey “No Chance Survival” reveals his Israeli heritage as he deploys Middle Eastern scales and phrasing. “Time is Up” sounds like it’s going to be a Philip Glass-inspired minimalist excursion before Nir sends it into space with sparse, tribal drums crossed by shimmering glissandos that gradually morph into a rock groove of doom, with Nir playing a wah-wah cello solo. Nir is an avowed devotee of Jimi Hendrix, and his double-tracked cello sounds like twin electric guitars at the end. It’s a song King Crimson could have played during their Larks’ Tongues era.
Nir gets a wide range of tones from his cello. He sounds like a guitar on one track, coaxes out percussion and sound effects on the spare “My Last Breath” and even creates the sound of breathing, matched with his own inhaling and exhaling. He can be aggressive, spacey or just serenely beautiful, as he is on “It’s a New Beginning,” a gentle bike ride of minimalist cycles and arcing strings, or the album closer, a hymn-like, mostly acoustic string arrangement called “Traveling Through the Dark.”
“It’s A New Beginning”
Yoed Nir brings some new colors to ambient chamber music and The Next Dream is one you’ll want to be a recurring dream.
John Diliberto (((echoes)))