Sarah Neufeld – The Ridge (Paper Bag Records, 2016)
Though best known for her work with Montreal’s Arcade Fire, British Columbia-born violinist Sarah Neufeld has produced her most interesting and experimental work outside of the troupe. On The Ridge, Neufeld revisits many of the sonic concepts and elements she explored with saxophonist Colin Stetson on 2015’s excellent Never Were the Way She Was, ultimately marrying both her minimalism and pop backgrounds. The results, though less exploratory or experimental, are nonetheless filled with mood and meditation, with Neufeld capable of extracting a staggering amount of emotion from sole notes. The opening title track trembles with tension before unfolding into lush vocal arrangements and post-rock-level bombast. The atmosphere is often undone by the album’s percussive elements, its drums bursting violently through the mix. Though unfortunate, it’s not enough to ruin The Ridge’s more striking moments.
Trial Track: “The Ridge”