10 String Symphony

2 March 2018, The Sitting Room, Napier
By Toby Blakey

Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer of 10 String Symphony may have just brought two violins, one banjo, some sound gear and their voices to Friday’s Sitting Room Session, but they filled the historic AMP building with powerfully beautiful music, atmospheric textures and rhythms, and enchanted a very appreciative audience.

Their set-list, which covered their three albums, was carried by fiddles, banjo and Rachel’s vocals. 10 String symphony are so named because their fiddles are strung with five strings, unlike the normal four. Christian explained that this was to add more depth and “fill out the sound”, and this is what they did. This was not just a couple of Americana fiddlers playing old classics; their playing brought a unique originality to the music. There were glimpses of classic fiddling (‘Recession Jig’), but the violins also created very modern sounding instrumental soundscapes (‘Deacon Waltz’) and rhythms and beats that wouldn’t be out of place on a hip-hop track (‘Someone To Be Good For’). These sounds were also combined with Rachel’s powerful, country voice and Christian’s more mellow vocals. A banjo made an appearance for a few songs which brought another dimension to the evening’s show.

With their new album titled Generation Frustration and playing what they call Progressive Acoustic Folk, they brought everything that these monikers could imply to the show and their music. The Sitting Room crowd sat in hushed, appreciative silence as Rachel and Christian sang about frustration with American politics, about modern day phobias, about waiting for that ideal person, about being broke. If Friday’s show was an indication of how American folk is changing, then bring it on!

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