Heather Trost has made herself heard both inside and outside the music scene in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lives—in recent years her violin has appeared on recordings by Beirut, Josephine Foster, Claire Cronin, and Thor Harris, among others. She remains best known as half of the wonderful A Hawk and a Hacksaw, a Roma-inspired duo with her husband, Jeremy Barnes, but her first solo album, Agistri (LM Duplication), which dropped earlier this year, couldn’t sound much more different than those raucous Eastern European sounds.
Trost barely plays violin on Agistri, instead favoring an arsenal of keyboards—organ, harpsichord, piano, Mellotron, ARP synthesizer—which she uses to create dreamy pop reminiscent of sophisticates such as Stereolab and Broadcast. Trost and Barnes recorded the core of the album with guitarist Drake Harden and harmony singer Rosie Hutchinson, but a handful of guests help out, including Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich—he contributes typically tangled melodies to the title track, whose video (directed by Naomi Yang of Galaxie 500) is embedded below.
Trost isn’t the most powerful of singers, but she uses her voice masterfully, letting it sink sensually into sashaying grooves that sound like denatured bossa nova or the spaced-out jams of Joe Byrd’s great United States of America. Other tunes have an atmospheric vibe that’s like a glossier, sweeter version of a 70s Italian horror soundtrack. Trost also delivers a wonderfully trippy cover of the Harry Nilsson classic “Me and My Arrow,” which rides on a massive drum break from Barnes. Sadly, she has no plans for any midwest shows at present.
Jakob Bro, Streams (ECM)
Robin Hayward, States of Rushing (Choose)
Stephen Clarke, Giacinto Scelsi: The Piano Works 2 (Mode)
Fredrik Nordström, String (Moserobie)
L’Orchestre Sidi Yassa de Kayes, L’Orchestre Sidi Yassa de Kayes (Kindred Spirits/Mali Kunkan)