by subzar

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There are those who go in search of questions, but don’t seek answers. Some focus on destination, others departure.

And so they wander, away from their home...

Modern compositional acoustic quartet, subzar, present a new work that takes up the theme of flight from the close of 2012’s 'i am not yet here'. 'pico' conveys a migratory journey by a flock of birds, and is a deviation from the first EP’s story. Its four distinct movements chronicle the triumphs and travails of the birds’ journey, from the liberation of take-off through the serenity above the clouds to the terror of an oncoming storm.

These movements also explore another story.

There are birds that migrate every year. Likewise, there are people who live without pause and stability, either driven to explore different lands or driven away from inhospitable lands. 'pico' is also a journey through the eyes of those whose need of exploration never relents - those for whom the idea of ‘home’ may differ in meaning to the majority. In doing so, 'pico' seeks to highlight a question that has forever confronted humankind, and is inherent throughout nature: to seek shelter in the comforts of our nest, or spread our wings to places far beyond?

Travellers carry the slightest burdens.

subzar travelled to Austria to record in the valley town of Pfarrwerfen, near Salzburg, so sought to replicate the travellers’ ethos. 'pico' was recorded using only the instruments they carried and the natural sounds captured on their travels, with minimal overdubs formed mainly from analogue manipulation of recorded tracks. The result is a naked and pure recording that better captures the spirit of the quartet’s live performances.

"So many of us live like birds these days, seeking the sensation of pure flight as much as that of stillness. So many of us observe our own migratory patterns, and fly even when we simply listen to a
piece of music as transfiguring as this one.

My parents called me “Pico” because it seemed to belong to so many cultures, natural wings for a global destiny. But I don’t think they ever imagined that it would so perfectly fit so many of us who belong to that flock that cherishes the new possibilities of avian migration, and that lands where whim and the moment

I head off now on my annual autumnal passage from my mother’s home on one side of the world to my sweetheart’s home in another. But Pico will be with me every flap of the way."

- Pico Iyer (July 2013)


released December 16, 2013


music by subzar

engineering and production by luca sammuri
recorded at sunn hof studio, pfarrwerfen, austria

illustrations by marie boucomont
graphic design by clayton junior



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subzar Cambridge, UK

fusing post-rock and classical influences, subzar uses guitars, cello and violin to redefine the traditional ‘string quartet’. strident rhythm and intricate melody interweave - captivating the mind yet encouraging it to wander; a voiceless, organic sound that seems both unique and yet timeless. ... more

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Track Name: part i - tethered no more, from shackled to soar
All inherit a map with lines to follow, demanding consultation both obeisant and constant. For some, this map is not guide but senseless ritual.
Track Name: part ii - in ritual's suspense
The paradox of journeying is that it holds one in suspense - it is floating sanctuary adrift above the earth, from which to jettison the burdens that hinder. It is possibility not actuality.
Track Name: part iii - toward new horizons yonder, though clouds may tear asunder
Foreboding skies submit to any morning's beckon - the tyranny of dawn that bears a cloud-woven mind: from where this wind of ceaseless toil, carrying seed but severing root? A plant not rooted does not bloom!
Track Name: part iv - in languid drift aloft a looking-glass sea
The clouds weep their last and the horizon bares her prize: not merely new place but a promise of new perspective, from mountain's peak to bird's beak. Yet dropping anchor to calm water disturbs - insatiable thirst in time returns, and winds forever lurking must blow onward still.