Fittingly, the series opens with one of its aces, a double album of Linda Catlin Smith compositions. Where Dirt Road featured the fifteen-part title piece, from 2006, played by Apartment House members Mira Benjamin on violin and Simon Limbrick on percussion, Drifter presents more of an overview of her work, consisting of ten compositions from 1995 through to 2015. Recorded between February and July 2016, mainly at the University of Huddersfield, the pieces are variously played by Bozzini Quartet and members of Apartment House; as is typical of Another Timbre, the recording and sound quality is first-rate throughout, allowing the pieces to be heard to best effect.
The music here has all of the qualities that Dirt Road led one to expect of a Smith composition — gentleness, subtlety, emotion, attention to detail, a sense of melody, tranquillity — but goes beyond the range of that album. The quartet pieces (exemplified by “ Folkestone ”) certainly display Smith’s talents to excellent effect, but the fewer instruments that are present the better Smith tends to sound, as she seems to savour the sound of each individual instrument. That proposition is tested to the limit on three tracks that feature just one instrument, “ Ricercar ” played by Anton Luksozevieze on cello, “ Galanthus with Benjamin on violin, and “Poire ” with Philip Thomas on piano; all three draw one in and make riveting listening.
Drifter is impossible to fault; it is impeccable from first note to last.