It’s hard to say if humankind will ever know exactly how a caterpillar goes about shedding its skin, digesting itself, turning into a primordial soup, and then transforming its own goo into a resplendent butterfly or moth, but the entirety of this process happens in one of two places: inside a cocoon or a chrysalis.
Whorls, an eleven-tune elemental soup of its own, invites listeners to envelop themselves in the cozy, metamorphic trappings that Kittel & Co. explored as they fashioned a new identity from their harlequin musical backgrounds and experiences. Led by fiddler, composer, and virtuoso Jeremy Kittel, the outfit has accomplished a feat of new acoustic, string band-rooted chamber music that isn’t simply as mind-boggling and intangible as the inner workings of a butterfly’s transfiguration; it’s as whimsical, alluring, and magnificent, too. “Chrysalis” begins with Simon Chrisman’s bounding hammered dulcimer, contemplative and exciting, while the ensemble chimes in one by one, in dialogue, building and deconstructing the silky hook together, ever dipping back into the melodic soup to transform the song into newer, grander, wilder, softer, shimmering versions of itself.
It becomes abundantly clear, as “Chrysalis” ebbs and flows, wriggling to life, that from top to bottom, Whorls is as if innumerable chrysalises were arranged like nesting dolls, with each subsequent transformation revealing a more surprising, captivating conversion building up to and succeeding each magical metamorphosis it contains.