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Published On: Fri, Apr 7th, 2023

Black Dog String Quartet: A Thousand Times Brighter

Black Dog String Quartet
A Thousand Times Brighter
(Black Dog String Quartet)

Vancouver’s Black Dog String Quartet—Elyse Jacobson playing violin, Molly MacKinnon on same, John Kastellic on viola (and some lead vocals), Doug Gorkoff playing cello, and Chelsea Rose and Naomi Kavka also on lead vocals—present their new 9-song A Thousand Times Brighter.

A pretty much heartbreaking string layering begins the beginning tune here, “All The Pretty Horses,” A sweet, easy-on-the-ears female vocal brings in the first verse, but then we are back to the layered strings swirl, which just about makes the tune perfect, the high flying violin leading across the top of all of it. There is a wild slicing sawing lead mid-center of the piece before the vocals come back then a real sense of energy closes out the piece.

I like the weird pounding percussion to the next tune, “Two,” as the strings battle Kastellic’s desperate near, shouting vocal. 

Pretty much A Thousand Times Brighter is superb throughout. Black Dog String Quartet knows how to write and deliver actual songs, not just masturbatory ear fodder of string players showing off or pitting instruments against each other. Saying all that, though, it’s the end of these nine where I really got the payoff, with the trio of the string playfulness in recalling love of “In A Dream,” the ‘funky’ blues of “Dizzying View,” complete with horns (not the first time the band adds horns to a song) and Kastellic’s best vocal here in my opinion on the very last, most excellent “Sea of Clover.”

It would certainly be worthwhile to get your hands on Black Dog String Quartet’s A Thousand Times Brighter.

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Black Dog String Quartet: A Thousand Times Brighter