The Unbroken Surface of Snow

by Andrew Cronshaw

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It’s seven years since the release of British zitherist and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw’s previous album, 'Ochre', which was nominated for the Critics’ Award in the BBC Awards for World Music.

Since then most of his performances have featured a musician who wasn’t on 'Ochre', Armenian duduk master Tigran Aleksanyan. Now, with 'The Unbroken Surface of Snow', Cronshaw and Aleksanyan come together on CD, joined by long-time Cronshaw collaborator Ian Blake on bass clarinet and soprano sax.

The great Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio, probably best known abroad for her membership of Swedish/Finnish band Hedningarna, who sang on Cronshaw’s 6th album The Language of Snakes back in 1993, contributes a Finnish epic runo-song to the spacious, minimalist unfolding of the new album’s 34-minute title track.
Since the recording of that track, and powerful live shows together in Finland, the four have united as the band SANS, in which Sanna and Ian’s roles are much increased.

Media on 'The Unbroken Surface of Snow':

“Andrew Cronshaw is a bravely experimental British composer and multi-instrumentalist who is also a journalist. His last album, the much-praised Ochre, released seven years ago, matched English folk melodies against Middle Eastern instrumentation. Here he is joined by three other musicians, including Tigran Aleksanyan, a master of the Armenian duduk, for drifting and mostly instrumental compositions that include echoes of British or Armenian traditional melodies.
Three tracks are duets with Aleksanyan, with Cronshaw playing the gently chiming zither, whistles, pipes or the enormous Slovak fujara flute. There's a solo zither treatment of a stirring Scottish traditional melody, and the remarkable 34-minute title track, based on a Finnish creation myth, on which zither and duduk are joined by clarinet, saxophone and singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio, apparently improvising the melody that suddenly enlivens this delicate, haunting exercise in glacial mood music.” - Robin Denselow, The Guardian

“Stunningly beautiful” – Fiona Talkington, BBC Radio 3

“Absolutely exquisite” – Mary Ann Kennedy, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 3

“Sublime” – Max Reinhardt, BBC Radio 3

“Music of snowflake-like singularity” – Ken Hunt, fRoots

“A palpable sense of space and peace” – Norman Chalmers, Scotland on Sunday

“Spacious, gracious, subtle, quietly surprising” - Doug Spencer, ABC Australian national radio

“Unfolds, seduces and ultimately mesmerises” – Tony Hillier, The Australian

"The music is sparse, glacial and utterly beautiful, with a wide, panoramic sense of infinite space;
you will happily lose yourself again and again in the title track, a far northern wilderness transformed into sound" - Tim Cumming, Songlines

“Ochre was already a masterpiece, but The Unbroken Surface of Snow is a musical paradise on earth” – Marius Roeting, New Folk Sounds, Netherlands

“Deep, unfolding music… and, like snow itself, it falls silently and accumulates additional weight and resonance with repeated listening” – Lee Blackstone, Rootsworld, USA

“If the BBC ever make a sequel to Frozen Planet, here surely is its emotive soundtrack”
– David Quantick, Uncut

“This remarkable, quiet, haunting piece of folk art… The 34-minute title track is a Finnish creation myth set to a musical landscape that is as close to silence as a heavy snowfall, and more beautiful”
– Tim Cumming, The Independent

“Here is a great beauty that you may not notice right away; it took me several months. The music just came flowing towards me, as if I was on a summer meadow and looked up at the sky and saw white clouds drift past. Or a winter night out in the country with the Milky Way’s glittering star ribbon. Such occasions when there is all the time in the world and no boundaries. A soundtrack for thought and feeling displaced”
– Lennart Wretlind. Swedish national radio P2


released October 24, 2011

Cloud Valley CV2009

Andrew Cronshaw: electric zither, fujara, electric 5-string kantele, ba-wu, whistle, drone
Tigran Aleksanyan: Armenian duduk
Ian Blake: bass clarinet, soprano sax
Sanna Kurki-Suonio: vocal

Produced by Andrew Cronshaw, Ian Blake & Jamie Orchard-Lisle
Recorded by Jamie Orchard-Lisle
mastered by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering

Tracks 1 & 2 recorded live at Cloud Valley
Track 3 live at Manor Farm Barn, Suffolk (Sanna's vocal at Cloud Valley)
Track 4 live at Cecil Sharp House, London
Track 5 live at the "Looking for a New England 2" show presented by fRoots and EFDSS at Cecil Sharp House



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Andrew Cronshaw London, UK

Andrew Cronshaw is a British multi-instrumentalist and producer, leader of the Finnish/Armenian/British band SANS, who also has a long career as a writer on roots musics, particularly those of the Nordic, Baltic, eastern and central European and Iberian regions, for fRoots, The Rough Guide to World Music etc. ... more

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