The small instrumental chamber ensemble of electric guitar, violin and keyboard-piano (and bass drum) weaves a langorous web of post-modernist cyclic motifs while Shara Worden (joined toward the end by Owen Pallett, who also plays violin on the recording) sings a lovely set of poetic lyrics on Death personified and the goodbyes to life that have resonance with such early music composers as Giullame Dufay. It is hauntingly painful, lovely and dark.
A second work, "Depart," concludes the program with suspended, wordless long-toned vocals and multiple cello parts. It drones and motives recur with mystic insistence.
In short this is David Lang at his best. It is gloriously dark music, and a clear step away from anything predictable in the new music scene. It occupies its own space like a tropical island surrounded by sea. Lang is essential today, and this is a key work.