Laura Ortman’s Shimásání returns the ensemble back to the core collective, yet the instrumental arsenal seems to remain roughly the same, as all six members have apparently mastered 3 to 5+ instruments each. Ortman’s composition begins as if in a smothering fog — heavy, slow-pulsing chords of piano, low brass, and bass clarinet glide, quietly yet forcefully, beneath a thin haze of effervescent harp sparkling. An aching melody emerges out of the gradually unfolding harmonies, carried along by the hypnotic progression until a series of muted, quivering eruptions disrupts the rhythmic stability and reduces the texture to a lone harp.
While the harp reiterates a simple melodic fragment, cracks of light begin to leak through as the color palette shifts to lighter, transparent timbres that float softly upwards. Supple clarinet and flute melodies swirl amongst bright chimes and fluid cascades in the piano, creating a sensuous wash of calm, vibrating beauty. As the music circles back upon itself, the initial sequence of harmonies reappear; however, with the texture now stripped back to only piano and bass clarinet, the heaviness of tone effortlessly gives way to a concluding sense of tranquil meditation.