“Go Darkly into the Night”
Music review by Mike O’Cull www.mikeocull.com
Badass modern classical composer/multi-instrumentalist/novelist Elaine Nolan is one of Ireland’s most compelling creatives. She has a fully legit background but prefers to live in the margins of her art, blurring genre lines and creating music no one else is doing. Nolan’s latest musical release is the track “Go Darkly into the Night,” a spacious and unconventional instrumental piece for piano, cello, and violin. It’s a dissonant and brooding piece of music that shows her transitioning from classical to cinematic more than ever before and compares well to some of the most unnerving and mysterious soundtracks in film history.
Being the Renaissance woman that she is, Elaine wrote the piece, played all the parts, and engineered and produced the recording sessions on her own. This gives “Go Darkly into the Night” an intensely personal feel that large ensemble sessions often lack. It begins with an alternating pair of jarring piano chords, which repeat and get topped with cutting violin notes. The cello adds a chromatic ostinato below, a figure which becomes a major theme of the composition as it unfolds. The violin picks up the ostinato and uses it conversationally with the cello as both instruments transpose it upwards towards a dynamic peak.
Nolan moves on to what seems to be a more delicate piano and cello movement but dissonance creeps in slowly and warps the feel ever so slightly. This is followed by a long unwinding by all three instruments that feels like someone making peace by withholding anger. Tension builds quickly, however, with Nolan’s cello playing the most menacing role. The chromatic figure soon returns on the violin, answered by a tragic beautiful cello sequence that’s one of the emotional centers of this work.
Much of the last two minutes of the piece is centered around build emotion with the chromatic ostinato used in a more acute manner than before with less space between each instrument’s phrases. All three are on it by now, building to a chordal climax and a sparse, unresolved ending. Nolan is knocking on the doors of the emotionally-charged soundtracks to films like Hitchcock’s Psycho and Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut with this work and it channels a simmering bitterness that’s honest and authentic. Elaine Nolan is continually evolving and elevating her craft and “Go Darkly into the Night” is an attention-grabbing step forward for her. She and her music are clearly heading towards bigger things.
LISTEN ON SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/534wMuWG6xJhOEOnKPsE8i
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://elainenolan.net/