Travelogue 2016.05.22: Sarah Louise / Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir [VDSQ]


Founded in 2009 by Steve LowenthalVin Du Select Qualitite (VDSQ) is a specialized imprint with a keen focus on the acoustic guitar. As the name suggests, each album is like a choice wine of a lesser known variety that offer sublime pleasures to the open-minded listener. The label offers elegance without pretense and embraces its underground roots by fostering experimentation rather than shying away from it. Presented here are two shining additions to the catalog by Sarah Louise, who hails from Asheville in the mountains of North Carolina, and Icelandic musician Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir

Sarah Louise – VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume 12

Combining an elemental Appalachian spirit with a modern compositional approach, VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume 12 serves as the vinyl debut for Louise, whose deeply ornate and engaging playing adds rich new colors to the palate of contemporary guitar

I first heard Sarah Louise‘s mesmerizing explorations with the 12-string guitar on her debut Field Guide which was originally released on cassette by another essential imprint for lovers of avant folk and acoustic music, Scissor Tail Editions (a hand printed CD edition of the album is now available on the artist’s Bandcamp).

On VDSQ Solo Acoustic Vol.12, her work sounds even more radiant and refined as she continues to organically fuse a world of folk influences and a drone aesthetic into her distinct sound which somehow never loses its distinctly Appalachian flavor.

In a recent interview with Sarah, she was asked what she enjoyed most in a work of art and she replied “Sincerity and surprise. The labor involved in its creation feeling present. Pattern and repetition. Intensity”. This turns out to be quite an apt description of her own music as well with its deep resonances and complex filigree rendered with pure intent and bold conviction. Prepare to be dazzled and spellbound.

OrderVDSQ Records Shop (LP)  |  Revolver/Midheaven (FLAC/MP3)

Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir – VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume 14

A widescreen, cinematic vision for acoustic guitar composition from this classically trained Icelandic artist. From minimal tone poems to densely melodic ballads, VDSQ solo acoustic Volume 14 presents a deeply personal approach to modern guitar that takes us on a journey of unexpected beauty

Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir is a classically trained musician and composer from Iceland. Her contribution to the VDSQ Solo Acoustic series is particularly intriguing as the viola is her primary instrument, not the guitar. There is a bit of a story behind how the album come into being. Told in Steve Lowenthal’s words and recently shared on Kristin’s Facebook page it is a good read and captures the essence of what makes the album so special (read here).

One can almost sense the tentativeness giving way to the freedom of the creative process and quiet joy of discovery as the strings resonate over the light ambient textures and field recordings that serve as the backdrop for “Night” which opens the album, quite a contrast the warm melodic flow of “Current” which comes next.

The sketches and vignettes that follow each have their own enchantments to offer from the stately  elegance “Dropped” and “Star” to the elegiac beauty of “Luna” or the pensive narratives of “Pacific” and “Atlantic” before the gentle final coda of “Drift” ebbs away on a gentle tide. It is a beautiful and thoughtful experiment well suited to contemplation and repeated listening and should appeal equally to ambient music listeners as well.

OrderVDSQ Records Shop (LP)  |  Revolver/Midheaven (FLAC/MP3)