Clutched in the Maw of the World confirms everything that we proclaimed last year about the talents of Alder & Ash. Copeland has the skill and ambition to rival his contemporaries, and to do for the cello what Colin Stetson has done for the saxophone: to break the boundaries of expectation laid down by years of predictability”

A Closer Listen


Alder & Ash is cello taken to its absolute extremes of calm and violence. Montreal-based instrumentalist Adrian Copeland brings together elements of modern classical, noise, and doom, exploring the dichotomies of minimalism and maximalism, stillness and cacophony, terror and chaos. 

Copeland composes on the cello, aided by the instrument’s remarkable range – not only the typical, smooth legato and pizzicato, but a host of extended techniques, as well: scordatura (detuning strings), col legno (striking the strings with the bow), ponticello (metallic, shrill overtones), and percussive sounds created from the cello itself. 

The project has a broad, unorthodox variety of influences, which comes through in the final product. While the music is grounded in minimal classical and post-rock, it also reveals colours of black metal, industrial, classical impressionism, and ambient music. 

The first Alder & Ash album, Psalms for the Sunder (2016) is visceral at its core; it delves into unexpected textures and musical ideas that range from bombastic and cacophonous, to more subtle and nostalgic. As the title suggests, Psalms is a study of downfall and collapse — in that tension and space it finds not only cacophony, violence and decay, but also beauty and calm. 

Soon after its release, US-based label Lost Tribe Sound signed Copeland for a second album (and re-released the first album as part of a limited-edition subscription series). Clutched in the Maw of the World is scheduled for release in July of 2017. It picks up the ideas of Psalms and pushes them further, exploring novel textures and ideas, and expanding the frontiers of Copeland’s previous work.