Viola is one of those instruments that is loved by many but remains somewhat underrepresented in a variety of musical contexts. Ryan Davis aka Radia puts a glowing spotlight on it here, showcasing multitudes of colours and possibilities, and does so with much skill and imagination. The whole world is wrapped up within 16 minutes of music, a world so engaging that the listener is left wishing for more.
Radia is a one-man band – Davis plays his viola with abandon but he also does electronics, looping and beats, creating music that crosses genres easily. The blend of classical, electronics, folk and hip-hop elements creates a unique and accessible voice. Davis’ tone is dark and beautiful, sweet, resonant. His compositions are flowing from one to another meaningfully, as if he is leading us through some secret passageway.
Of Glow & Abandon opens with the sorrowful and poetic Dreaming, After All. There are neither electronics nor beats here, only the purity of sound and expression, the lone viola voice that pleads and sings and dreams. It segues into Blood Orange seamlessly and the mood lightens up with viola pizzicatos and beats. Davis continues building up the sound and energy, adding more beats and more soaring melodies in Colour You Like, and the mood grows into a dancing joy. Set a Fire In My Snow concludes this musical narrative in a cinematic ambience.
Of Glow & Abandon is a glorious ode to the viola and a showcase of one man’s creativity.