Behind the finest and most moving pieces of contemporary-classical music lie deeply personal and poignant stories, and Simon Goff’s new album Vale is no exception. The British violinist and composer’s dazzling exploration of the interface between violin and technology and between the poles of intimacy and grandeur, as rich and deep and wide as the landscape that lies its heart, named after the Vale of York where Goff grew up. The album encapsulates not just a landscape but a place in time and an identity forged through youth and adulthood, all viewed from his current base in Berlin.
Goff’s artistic project is one which has been informed by his previous collaborations as both a performer and recording engineer, performing with artists such as Thor Harris (Swans, Amanda Palmer) and Federico Albanese, playing in concert halls across Europe. On his very first day working at the legendary Vox-Ton studios, Goff was introduced to Adam Wiltzie (half of the venerated post-classical/ ambient duo Stars Of The Lid/A Winged Victory for the Sullen), and over the next two years, he worked with post-classical and post-rock visionaries such as the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir (notably on the film soundtracks for Chernobyl and Joker), Dustin O'Halloran and Yair Elazar Glotman.
When conceptualising and setting his own parameter for his debut album “Vale”, he had all studio tools at his disposal, but he gave himself, “the task of only using the violin as the starting point for composition.” At Vox-Ton, with co-producer/mixer Sam Slater (Chernobyl, The Joker), Goff combined analogue purity with processed, looped and layered treatments, with Jóhannsson’s words in his mind: “music where the electronic and acoustic sounds blend seamlessly,” - “I don’t consider I achieved that, but it helped me to discover my own path forward”. He also respected the role of bass guitar and rhythm in his DNA, and decided to embellish the completed tracks with synth bass, double bass (played by Yair Elazar Glotman) and percussion (by Andrea Belfi),” sounds that would add some life,” he explains. “I wanted to follow the music and not be dogmatic about it.”
Simon Goff has poured everything into Vale: from personal and musical memories to lessons learnt. There’s a lot of psychological therapeutic catharsis in this record.”
2. Wooden Islands
3. A Process in the Weather of the Heart
7. I filled my Lungs with the Necessary Air, and Yelled!
8. Sleeping Winds