Zachary Greer, Pallmer – Final Breath (Spotify)

“Simple and influensive Cinematic beauty, based on acoustic chords and some quite artistic singing. "Final Breath" has the power to stimulate the mind and affect our mood. The cooperative work which you cannot easily skip!”

“Final Breath” hails from The Duel, a striking instrumental album memorializing the two hundredth anniversary of New Brunswick (Canada)’s last fatal duel.

“On the surface, ‘Final Breath’ is about George Wetmore and George Street’s emotional journey leading up to the events of the last fatal duel in New Brunswick,” said Zachary Greer (he/him) on the eve of the October 2 anniversary. “However, the themes of their characters are so current. The experience of carrying guilt and regret, and the potential to succumb to ‘darkness’ when under extreme emotional pressure are timeless tropes of the human condition. I also found that the immense significance put on reputation, which was the main reason Wetmore challenged Street, resonated so well with our current society and its relationship with social media.”

Recorded at Fredericton’s The Recordery with Brad Perry and Evan Hansen, the LP features contributions from Fredericton string duo Pallmer and violinist Ali Johnson.

“Pallmer has an intimate and raw sound, which is exactly what I wanted for this story,” said Greer. “I wanted raw and gritty textures, but there’s also beauty, representing the complicated lives of these characters. Some of the tracks were basically written in the studio, and then I structured them around the improvised takes we did. I envisioned this single in the story as a local group in 1821s New Maryland, playing this song in a little tavern just after the duel occured.”

Inspired by how Beethoven would write incidental music like the “Egmont Overture” or the “Coriolan Overture,” which were both based on plays, Greer’s album unfolds chronologically with the events of the duel, as outlined in a companion digital booklet.

“This story that took place just outside of Fredericton is so surreal, and people don’t realize what kind of history we have here in New Brunswick,” Greer said. “To make a film or television production of it would require a crazy budget and resources, so I felt this was a great opportunity to bring it to life with an instrumental album.”

Reviewed by Nagamag on October 9, 2021