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Armbruster’s Can I Sit Here

For Connor Armbruster, the idea that space and music are inherently linked serves as a throughline for his work. His newest album, Can I Sit Here, dutifully maintains this theme as it meditates on loss and the medley of despair, wistfulness, desolation, and communion that follows. Recorded in a small apartment studio, Can I Sit Here’s restrained setting embeds the music with a level of intimacy, as though the listener were sharing that same cramped room.

The album’s instrumental variety is similarly limited. The thrumming of an electric violin is the main sound at play, though other instruments make occasional appearances to add body and depth. “Tell the Crowd,” the fifth track, is undergirded by a double bass while an acoustic violin takes the main melody, bringing the album closer to the listener by revealing the physicality of the instrumentation. Jarring chords are bolstered by the scraping sound of the violin’s bow digging into the strings, which contrasts its lightness when the violin glissandos into a high-pitched cry.

Photo Credit: Armbruster

This sense of proximity allows the resonance of Armbruster’s electric violin to swaddle the listener. Songs are built around repetitions that expertly phase in bouts of distortion, layering or falling away to reveal beautiful, simple melodies that hinge on their textures. Subtle changes compound on each other. “Playground,” for example, opens with the sluggish drone of an electric violin so dense it could be its own symphony settling into a meditative melody. Slowly, the drones unravel and decay; the noise subsumes the tune, the tune breaks out above the noise…by the end, all that’s left is a pulsating hum.

Listening to Can I Sit Here can be like staring at a wall only a few inches away—from here, it feels all-consuming. The album, with its tiny space and lean instrumental palette, manages to gesture to emotional giants the only way we can ever experience them—through a limited point of view.


Olivia Zhao is a freshman in the MSB hoping to major in Business & Global Affairs.


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