Music Review: A Thousand Times Brighter album by the Black Dog String Quartet
Vancouver's Black Dog String Quartet (BDSQ) first formed in 2007. Sixteen years later, the group is excitedly waiting for the release of A Thousand Times Brighter, its first album of original material. The “deeply personal” record will debut on streaming platforms later this month, on April 28th. But, if you’re wondering what took them so long, the answer is collaboration — members of the group worked on collaborative as well as solo projects.
A Thousand Times Brighter is an unusual but enchanting work, consisting of nine polished tracks, that fuses different but related genres, such as contemporary classical, chamber pop, musicals, folk and fiddle music. In the ensemble, Elyse Jacobson and Molly MacKinnon are on violins, Doug Gorkoff is on cello, while John Kastelic is on viola, but also contributes vocals along with featured singers Chelsea Rosea and Naomi Kavka (lead vocalist on the album).
The seasoned musicians draw inspiration from their “rich reservoir of shared dreams and collective wisdom.” It’s a fair assessment, considering the lyrical content of the album. The songs range from reflections on companionship, loneliness, memories, search for joy, and love. The storytelling adds a sophistication that can be appreciated by people who love chamber music, theater, performance art, and an emotionally-impactful auditory experience.
"These songs present the quartet in an unique role: the quartet as a band, forming the energetic core of the music, with support on some tracks from upright bass, drums, and brass instruments,” states the band. “The album's primary thematic material is ecology and the natural world. The songs explore specific western Canadian environments such as the interior plateau, the coastal rainforest, and the prairies, as well as our human relationship with these places.”
The olive tree image on the album cover is a dedication to the album’s producer and sound engineer, Olivia Quan, who tragically passed away of natural causes during the production of the work. She was just 25 years old. "Olivia was a young audio engineering phenom, having already worked on multiple Juno-nominated recordings, and the BDSQ considered her a friend,” shares the quartet. The final adjustments were completed by her colleague Tom Dobrzanski.
The resulting album is interesting, unusual, and entertaining, though it may be more appropriate for people with a wide interest in music. This type of background may help listeners appreciate the creativity on “All the Pretty Horses” around the 3-minute mark, or the percussion on “How I Remember It”, or even the very slight resemblance of “Summer Song” to Guns-N-Roses’s “Sweet Child of Mine.” But, all in all, there’s much to enjoy on A Thousand Times Brighter for all.
Youtube Channel: @blackdogstringquartet9867
Note* Music provided for objective review by our partners.