Two Skies is the debut album of the chamber trio of American violinist Maya Bennardo, a member of the Mivos Quartet, who played on Mary Halvorson’s recent Amaryllis and Belladona (Nonesuch, 2022), and splits her time between Brooklyn and Stockholm, with Swedish bass clarinetist Erik Blennow Calälv and kacapi (a traditional zither of Sundanese people in Indonesia) player Kristofer Svensson. This trio has been playing together since 2020 and the album was recorded at Atlantis Grammofon in Stockholm in January 2022.
The enigmatic and austere cover art – detail from the Chinese «White-Robed Guanyin» (Guanyin in Chinese mythology – 觀音 – is the goddess of mercy and considered to be the physical embodiment of compassion, late 14th century, unknown artist) – captures the essence of the music. A form of music between improvisation and composition that explores sonic fragility and temporal stasis, often characterized by simple moments of harmonic sounds appearing and disappearing in a dynamic correspondence with emptiness. Perhaps the saying of the Chinese scholar Su Shi (which serves as the motto of Svensson’s label Kuyin which releases the coming collaboration of Bennardo and Svensson, Four Strings, 2022), would add another insight: «With quietude, you comprehend all movement, With emptiness, you receive ten thousand things».
Two Skies offers two extended, minimalist pieces – the 34-minute «Av Hav» by Svensson and the 22-minute «In Yo» by Calälv. These suggestive and meditative pieces draw the listener into their own mysterious sonic universe with an imaginative poetic focus. The lyrical, almost ritualist music stresses melodic constraint, as well as a free approach to sound, with great attention to the graininess of sound itself. It offers a delicate sonic experience beyond the constraints of time and space, one that may sharpen and recalibrate our senses and maybe will allow us to experience emptiness – in its most spiritual form.
Maya Bennardo (vio), Erik Blennow Calälv (bcl), Kristofer Svensson (kacapi)