Thresholds is the 6th studio album from SASO, a project formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2000 by composer & multi-instrumentalist Jim Lawler and producer/recording engineer Ben Rawlins and one which extends the duo’s collaboration with pianist Kevin Corcoran first heard on Mysterium (2016). The inspiration for the record came from the passing of Jim’s father, Brian Lawler, a musician and composer himself, and it was after his funeral that Jim and Ben began talking about creating compositions that would reflect the cycle of life and the journey to death. To do this, they decided to “go back to basics” and make a purely instrumental album using strings and piano while relying exclusively on vintage analog equipment to facilitate a minimal approach to recording and mixing while capturing most of live sessions in a single take.
“We wanted to press the reset button. We took everything we knew and put it to one side and embarked on a new chapter…We embraced the discipline of restriction so we could focus on the art rather than the convenience of technology. It felt like an antidote to modern digital production” – Ben Rawlins, SASO
There is a gripping stillness that takes hold right from the outset as lone strings pierce the silence at the start of “Origins” before they are joined ever so tentatively by the piano. Warm and resonant, yet mournful and deeply reflective, the piece sets the tone emotionally and musically for what is to come as the instruments gradually rise and surge in unison.
As the album unfolds, the ticking of time emerges as a sub-textual theme on “Covenant” even as strings hew and cleave to excavate existential depths that will be further explored on pieces like “Inner Light”, “The Tower”, “Invocation”, “Black Sea”, and the brooding “Shadow Work”. But, Thresholds is perhaps at its most affecting during its more subdued moments – tender pieces like “The Cabin”, “Elements”, “Absence”, or the ethereal “Cascade”. Ultimately it finds its resolution in the lovely and transcendent “Beyond Endings” bringing a thought-provoking and enthralling journey to a satisfying conclusion. Anyone who has felt the passing of years or suffered loss (and who of us hasn’t?) will keenly appreciate this beautiful record created by sure and knowing hands.
“Music can shift your perspective and transform awareness to contemplate life’s meaning. Ironically, death has taught me about life” – Jim Lawler, SASO
Thresholds is now available on CD & digital from Melted Snow.