Still basking in the afterglow of Piano Day 2018, this edition of Field Notes puts the spotlight on a superb quartet of new & upcoming piano-themed releases by Goldmund (Western Vinyl), Stefano Guzzetti (Home Normal), Muriël Bostdorp (Whales Records), and a cadre of artists associated with Moderna Records.
Goldmund – Occasus [Western Vinyl]
“I like mistakes, I like when things don’t go perfectly…I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.” – Keith Kenniff aka Goldmund
For anyone following experimental instrumental music with a minimalist bent in recent years, Keith Kenniff’s Goldmund project needs little introduction. You already know to expect fragile, soulful melodies and sublime textures rendered with exquisite restraint. The title of his newest album is a Latin word referring to the ‘downfall’ or setting of heavenly bodies, especially the sun. It is a theme that marks a slight shift away from a mostly nostalgic aesthetic and toward more opaque territory. Kenniff incorporates this concept in a variety of ways. There is a shadowy aura of ambiguity around even the most heartfelt moments while Kenniff lets some of the pieces wax downright ominous as he plumbs darker depths. Occasus is an exquisitely crafted enigmatic beauty.
Occasus will be available April 27 from Western Vinyl on CD and in a pair of vinyl LP editions from Western Vinyl (black and limited black & white marble). Cover art by Inka & Niclas Lindergård.
Stefano Guzzetti – Short Stories, Piano Book Volume Two [Home Normal]
“Stefano has since blossomed into one of the most respected composers around, and his quartet has become very sought-after as they perform around the world. But Stefano himself hasn’t release a solo piano album since his release on Home Normal in 2014, and that he finally sat down for some beautifully close-mic’ed late night piano pieces to follow on from his first ‘Piano Book’ is a real privilege; reminding everyone of just what a magical talent he is and how powerful the music of one person behind such a simple instrument as the piano can truly be.” – Ian Hawgood, Home Normal
Four years after his first release on the Home Normal label, Italian pianist & composer Stefano Guzzetti returns with a second volume in his ‘Piano Book’ series. Written, produced, mixed and mastered by that artist himself, it offers a surprisingly diverse and expansive range of tones, moods, and compelling miniature narratives while never breaking the spell of its warm intimacy. Masterful.
Short Stories, Piano Book Volume Two will be available April 27 digitally and on limited edition CD from Home Normal and features cover photography by Renata Floris
Muriël Bostdorp – See [Whales Records]
When you listen to a great deal of solo piano music, you learn to pay attention to the subtle characteristics that individuate each artist’s approach to the instrument. Technique, style, tone, timbre, mood, pacing – these elements form a pattern that can be as distinctive as a fingerprint. The ones that stop in your proverbial tracks, however, have an additional element that is intangible, an elusive alchemy that enchants and entrances and such is the case with Dutch pianist Muriël Bostdorp. Her album See has just been released by Whales Records, a label recently launched by Julien Marchal whose acclaimed Insight albums might be familiar to some readers. Neither too somber nor too saccharine, Bostdorp’s dampened piano and wistful melodies create an air of bittersweet melancholy buoyed by a lively rhythmic style that flows as effortlessly as water. An exceptional debut.
See is currently available digitally and on CD from Whales Records.
Various Artists – Intervals [Moderna Records]
For the second year in a row Moderna Records has released a compilation from its artist roster in conjuntion with Piano Day. Intervals shows just how strong that roster is with this pristine, spellbinding collection of tracks – an improvisation by Daigo Hanada, b-sides from recent albums by Ed Carlsen and James Maloney, a previously unreleased track by Jacob David, a sneak peek of Snorri Hallgrímsson’s upcoming debut album, an exploration for acoustic & wurlitzer piano by Manos Milonakis, a miniature by Sten Erland Hermundstad, and a nocturne by Sebastian Morawietz. If you are not already familiar with the label or any of these artists, you might want to linger on the label’s Bandcamp site and explore their outstanding catalog.
Intervals is currently available as a digital only release from Moderna Records and features cover art by Tilman Zitzmann (Geometry Daily).