As much as I love the sound of the cello, and Beiser’s playing of it, most of these songs sound incomplete to me, more like backing tracks than finished works. This really brings home to me how essential the voice is to rock as a genre (a few Duane Eddys, Link Wrays, Dick Dales and Davie Allans aside). Not necessarily words or lyrics, but the sound of a singer’s voice.
The song that works best here is “Kashmir” because its strong instrumental track is more rhythmic drone than melody, which sounds great on a cello. Plus, the song’s repetition and slow build are similar to the classical minimalism Beiser has often played.
As much as I have enjoyed the occasional rock song in concerts by Beiser, Bang on a Can, of which she is an alumnus, Kronos Quartet, etc., I now realize it was as a change-up or palate cleanser. So perhaps these tracks will work better when heard individually as they pop up at random on iPod shuffle than as an album listened to in one sitting. This is exactly how “Kashmir” appeared on Beiser’s 2010 album, Provenance: