This week’s travelogue is focused exclusively on Piano Day (March 29) and piano centered music.
Not many people can just up and declare their own holiday, but composer Nils Frahm has done exactly that with Piano Day and it is getting a very warm reception. What is it all about?
“At the end of 2014 I had an immediate urge to release a solo piano album which I recorded some time ago, and I was looking for a specific occasion to do so. I wanted it to be a nice surprise for everyone, so I thought of a meaningful release date to begin with. Seconds later it came to my mind: I was about to create my own holiday in order to come up with a reason for this release. Moreover, if I could be proud of something, then of being responsible for an annual celebration of the piano. And here comes the best bit, Piano Day will happen on the 88th day of the year, which most of the time is the 29th of March. Piano Day is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays”.
The release, called Solo, is offered as a free digital download so it can be immediately enjoyed, but it can also be ordered from Erased Tapes on CD and 12” vinyl which will support a greater objective – the construction of the Klavins M450 piano which Frahm calls “the largest and most wonderful piano the world has ever seen”. The new album was recorded on the protoype M370, itself an impressive and enormous instrument. Follow the links below to find out more, order the new album, or donate to the project. And of course, don’t forget to follow Piano Day on social media as there is sure to be a storm of creativity and musical joy surrounding it.
Piano Day website: http://www.pianoday.org/
Order (Digital/CD/Vinyl): http://www.erasedtapes.com/store/index/ERATP065
Listen to ‘Wall’ from Solo:
Piano Interrupted | The Unified Field Reconstructed (Denovali)
Remix albums are becoming almost de rigueur in the field of ambient and experimental music, but that is nothing to bemoan when the music bristles with creative spark and provides a fertile ground for exciting interpretations as is the case on The Unified Field Reconstructed by Piano Interrupted (the anglo/french duo of Tom Hodge and Franz Kirmann). The original recording, The Unified Field, was released in late 2013 on Denovali and is an elegant and mercurial blend of piano and modern classical with propulsive rhythms and sophisticated electronics – one of the very best released that year.
The new collection sees Hodge and Kirmann’s Denovali label mates reimagine selected tracks in their distinct styles. Hidden Orchestra is the ideal choice to augment and accelerate the already kinetic ‘Cross Hands’. Origambiro adds a dusty coating and clockwork motif to their mesmerizing interpretation of ‘Accidental Fugue’. John Lemke finds a perfect canvas for his percussive electroacoustic atmospheres in ‘Darkly Shining’. Tomáš Dvořák, aka Floex, explores the playfulness of ‘Emoticon’ in his vivid and spirited rendering . Kirmann himself reinterprets ‘Two or Three Things’ with a much heavier hand on the electronics than the mode of the original material would permit.
The album concludes with two tracks that are probably the most abstract in nature. Saffronkeira slows, stretches, and warps ‘Lost Coda’ into something that sounds like a feverish dream and Irish ensemble Second Moon of Winter adds an ethereal vocal and a dark ambient undercurrent to ‘Camera Obscura’ that completely transforms the original.
Both albums are highly recommended and can be enjoyed on their own, but I found it particularly gratifying to merge them into a combined listening experience by inserting the reworked versions directly behind the corresponding original track and playing as a single stream. The richness of textures, sounds, and styles in The Unified Field Reconstructed is testimony to both the ingenuity of the original work and the diverse talents the label has attracted. The ultimate beneficiary is the listener who gets to enjoy the bounty of all this wonderful creative output.
The Unfied Field and The Unified Field Reconstructed are both available from Denovali in MP3, CD, and Vinyl formats.
Order (CD/LP/MP3): denovali.com/pianointerrupted
Listen to ‘Cross Hands’, original version:
Listen to ‘Cross Hands’ reworked by Hidden Orchestra
Piano Album and EP Favorites Featured on ST
Piano Day provides a good opportunity to reflect on some great piano-led and piano-inspired music featured over the past year or two on Stationary Travels. Here is a quick second look at 10 albums and 5 EPs that fall into that category:
Poppy Ackroyd | Feathers (Denovali)
A selection for top ten modern classical albums of last year and a personal favorite, this album can be appreciated simply for the beauty of the music or the inventive and unconventional use of the instrument.
Otto A Totland | Pino (Sonic Pieces)
Another 2014 top ten selection and a wonderful collection of intimate pieces featuring dampened piano and eloquent melodies rendered captured with exquisite recording aesthetics.
Ithaca Trio | Music for Piano and Patience (Home Normal)
Two long form pieces featuring piano sounds processed and looped in captivating patterns of repetition, transformation, and decay. Completely beguiling.
Nils Frahm | Spaces (Erased Tapes)
Put together from live recordings, but much more than just a “live album”, Spaces captures Frahm at both his most intimate and most experimental. It is a distillation of the essence of his music and live performance. Highlights are the stunning track ‘Says’ and a gorgeous rendition of the beloved ‘Familiar’.
Tess Said So | I Did That Tomorrow (Preserved Sound)
Rasa Dakus and Will Larsen implement a fresh concept beautifully on this album which features their performances on piano and percussion with no other accompaniment and very minimal use of electronics and soars on the strength of the compositions and musicianship.
Fabrizio Paterlini | Art of the Piano
For quiet moments of reflection one would be hard pressed to find music more perfect than this collection of melancholic and elegant tunes composed and performed solo by Fabrizio Paterlini.
Islands of Light | Ruebke (Home Normal)
Wrapped in hazy gauze of ambient fabric and wistful reflection, this collection of pieces by Dino Spiluttini under the moniker Islands of Light is gentle on the ear, but is capable of evoking strong emotions as well.
Bruno Bavota | Secret of the Sea (Psychonavigtion)
Bruno Bavota channels a life-affirming passion through the keys of his piano in this musical love letter to his home of Naples, Italy which is graced with some poignant literary references as well.
Harnes Kretzer | Petrichor (Fluttery Records)
One part electroacoustic ambient and one part modern classical, piano has a very prominent role in this beautiful full length debut by Harnes Kretzer. Piano lovers will particularly enjoy ‘Damped’ and ‘Onomatopeia’.
M. Ostermeier | Still (Tench)
A musical evocation of the aesthetics embodied in contemporary art and architecture, this album is sleek, organic, and modern while never sounding sterile. Think Frank Lloyd Wright or Mondrian set to music.
Michael Mathy | Birth, Life, and Death (EP)
Short but eloquent reflections on life, love, and loss rendered with heartfelt beauty.
Sophie Hutchings | White Light (EP)
An evening of gorgeous solo improvisation captured by a true artist on the piano and a welcome reminder of the joy in store as she continues to work on her next full length album.
Julien Marchal | Insight (EP)
Short and sweet – four fine compositions on solo dampened piano whetting the appetite for the full length album Marchal has in the works.
Levi Patel | Of Sleep and Time (EP)
Three lovely pieces for piano and strings offered by a very promising new artist recorded during a short break taken on the coast of New Zealand.
Michael Price and Peter Gregson | Berlin 1-3 (EP)
Two of the busier composer/musicians in the modern classical world these days took time out for this short, but impeccable set of improvisations featuring Price on piano and Gregson on cello. A gem that should not be overlooked.
Cloudcasts: A Gentle Resonance I & II
A Gentle Resonance started as a single cloudcast featuring piano themed songs with a leaning toward minimalism and experimental ambient. It turned out to be the most well received Stationary Travels cloudcast by some margin and with the announcement of Piano Day, I decided to make it a series and compile volume 2 for release on March 29. Enjoy.
A Gentle Resonance I
This mix features Sophie Hutchings, Nils Frahm, Fabrizio Paterlini, Islands of Light, Antonymes, Harnes Kretzer, Julien Marchal, Michael Mathy, Luke Howard, Funeral Fireworks, Bruno Bavota, Levi Patel, Bruno Sanfilippo, and Bill Seaman.
A Gentle Resonance II
This mix features Poppy Ackroyd, Maiya Hershey, Madeleine Cocolas, Ben Lukas Boysen, Otto A Totland, Nils Frahm, Andrei Machado, Moshimoss (ft. Keith Jarrett), Tess Said So, M. Ostermeier, Stefano Guzzetti, Tracey Chattaway, 36, Keaton Henson, and Jacob Pavek.