The term “riff” usually implies guitar, keyboard, or, less often, bass. You know, rock ‘n’ roll instruments, not classical. Strings play “parts”; they don’t play “riffs.” Well, unless those strings are playing for Led Zeppelin. “Kashmir” boasts one of the hardest-hitting string riffs ever recorded, and referring to it with any other term undercuts its power.
Strings being so central to the original, a stringed cover of “Kashmir” makes sense. Well, New York musician Maya Beiser recorded such a cover, with a twist: all the strings are cello. Yes, twelve cellos went into this “Kashmir” as part of her effort to return the instrument to its Middle Eastern roots. Supported only by Jerry Marotta’s drumming – no vocals here, thank you very much – Beiser builds a dark symphony brick by brick.