When Sony Masterworks releases ‘Reveries‘ by Rob Simonsen in September, it will technically by a debut album, but the Los Angeles based composer’s work should be well known to many. Having worked with Mychael Danna on movies like 500 Days of Summer (2009) Moneyball (2011) and Life of Pi (2012), Simonsen has gone on to score a number of major independent and feature films such as The Way, Way Back (2013),The Spectacular Now (2013), The Age of Adeline (2015), The Front Runner (2018) and Captive State (2019) to name just a handful. The album has a rather rich backstory as one might imagine for a composer as experienced and well-traveled as Simonsen, and the more one learns about it, the more apparent what a labor of love Reveries represents. By his own account it is both a return to Simonsen’s roots escaping into and exploring the piano as youth as well as to an aesthetic he encountered and developed an affinity for while working in Paris and Berlin in recent years.
“I came back to LA and thought, I want to have those conversations here. I want to be able to go to a church and see a little concert. I want to connect more with people doing interesting explorations, and thinking deeply about their art.”
The music shows a clear kinship with the intimately immersive work of such composers as the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hauschka, Hildur Guðnadóttir, or Dustin O’Halloran (A Winged Victory for the Sullen), artists who journeyed albeit in the opposite direction, that is to say one of beginning as solo artists before entering the world of film & TV soundtracks. This is clearly evident in the somber, reflective beauty of “Spectre” which debuted along with a dramatic video treatment earlier this summer. And now the profoundly emotive “Coeur”, the album’s second single, along with part two of a continued visual story are here to be enjoyed in an exclusive premiere.
There is an enchanting oneiric quality to these pieces and a compelling command of melody, tone, timbre, and pacing that only build anticipation to hear what is still to come. One key to this sound and its inspiration, is the very piano Simonsen used to spin his visions into reality which he found in a barn outside of Paris with the help of Raphaël Hamburger in whose studios he had spent time working on Hugo Gélin’s film Demain Tout Commence and to which he would return to develop the new record.
We drive out of Paris before sunset. We’re on country roads, with no street lights, and we have no idea what we’re going to see. We come to a small village, and there’s a large barn there, with light spilling from inside. Our contact is standing out front with a glass of wine. ‘That’s him,’ Raphael says. ‘That’s our man.’ He welcomes us and we walk through the barn, which is full of pianos, some of the most wonderful pianos I’ve ever played. Then he brings us to yet another barn where there are even more. He leads us to one under a dust cover, a tall upright Bechstein that has a full, beautiful sound. Once we played it, we knew it was the one. ‘This is the unicorn! This is the magic piano!’” – Rob Simonsen
The rest, as they say, is history and it is story told in music we will all soon be able to enjoy in full when Reveries is released beginning September 6.