When I read about people like Jennifer, I can’t help but feel like a complete bag of shit. No, I don’t suffer from low self esteem. In fact, if you ask the right people or look through the right window, you’ll see I’m annoyingly healthy when it comes to self-love. Violinists and TED Talk bios make everyone feel like shit. Let’s take Jennifer’s bio for instance: She started playing violin at five, gets into bizarrely fantastic school at the age of fuck-off, was chosen to play for the Prince of Wales around the age of holy-shit, graduated with honours so distinct and hard to attain -shit was like that gold statue in Raiders- she goes on to win the great flibbidy-flab at the doodily-doo in the jiggidy-jar. See? You already know the fucking story. It feels unnatural. You might as well be discussing an alien species that shits on people. At five? I was proud to lick the back of my own heel. Seriously, I even showed it to people. More so? The adults I showed it to were way too impressed with my new talent. Just to show you a bit of that fucking freak show.
Despite Jennifer’s otherworldly upbringing, she sounds down to earth when she plays. I can hear the intent behind her notes. I sense the intensity she puts into the vibrations. She’s not trying to play. She’s telling you who the fuck she is. Sure, she’s crazy stupid fucking talented at violin. But there’s also a story behind it. For instance? This whole album is about Jennifer and her Polish heritage. And, ja pierdolę, can those Poles play the fiddle box. Shit’s in their blood. When something like this is ingrained in your DNA it changes the way your classical music is written. At one end of this album, you have composers that wrote pieces for the Polish people to and their heritage. On the other end, you have a half-Polish player raised (mostly) as a tea-and-toast Brit trying to connect to her Polish roots. Now that’s fucking loss and desire. And that’s what gives this album its distinct tinge and edge.
There’s a fuckton of good players out there. But in the strange world of five-year-olds playing perfect violin instead of licking heel, being good is not enough. You need emotions like anger and desire to play the good shit. An emotionless moppet could wallop down syncopated lines in abstract time signatures and even accent that dominant 7th while doing so, and it don’t mean shit. Yes, you have to be talented. But the craft requires more. It wants blood. It wants desire. It wants your time, life, thoughts, space, and expression. It demands all of this from you and it’ll still be hungry as all fuck. On this album you can hear real desire. At times it sounds completely fucking crazy. It can sound like it might piss on the curtains and call it champagne. But that’s what playing with heart and soul can do. Being human is dirty. It’s a goddamn mess. We shit, piss, fart, fuck, spit, bleed, and ache. Jennifer Pike can make you feel this. You can hear the depth of humanity in this music. She can make you feel like shit and you’ll fucking love it.