Alexandra Stréliski | Inscape [Secret City Records]

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Composer & pianist Alexandra Stréliski is an artist of Polish Jewish origin who grew up between Paris and Montreal. She made her debut with the 2010 album Pianoscope, but has gained many more listeners through her work featured in the films of Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”, “Demolition”) and on HBO (“Big Little Lies”, “Sharp Objects”). After a chaotic period of upheaval in her life, she has emerged as a solo recording artist once again with a delightful new album called Inscape, a meaningful portmanteau combining the words “interior” and “landscape”. Stréliski is refreshingly candid regarding the very personal nature of the record and how she hopes it will connect with others.

“To me, ‘Inscape’ was an existential crisis. A year where everything capsized and I had to go through various interior landscapes – hectic, beautiful and painful at the same time…A piano, on its own, is a very vulnerable thing, and I want to share this moment with the listener.” – Alexandra Stréliski 

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PREMIERE: At the Same Time from The Eleventh Hour by Anne Lovett [1631 Recordings]

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It would seem Anne Lovett literally has music in her blood. Though currently residing in London, she was born in Normandy, France, a birthplace she shares with Erik Satie. Her family is a musical one, her father being a luthier and her mother a dancer. Anne herself picked up piano at only three years old and developed an interest in composition early on. She went on to study at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris as well as the Royal Academy of Music and later at King’s College, London. Since graduating, she has performed at prestigious venues and festivals throughout Europe and been heard on classical broadcast radio. If you have listened to her debut solo album Beyond (and Below), you already know she is both an electrifying pianist and an imaginative composer. On her partially crowd-funded second album entitled The Eleventh Hour, however, she balances her virtuosity & passion with poignant introspection to create a stunning new opus in collaboration with members of the London Contemporary Orchestra. 

“The main narrative of the album was conceived during a period when intense shifts were taking place within our society which had a deep impact on the composer. The result is a deeply felt work that mourns the loss of a spiritual home as well as reflecting a dazed comprehension of the world having been permanently tilted on its axis. Best described through the Japanese concept of Kintsugi or “broken beauty”, ‘The Eleventh Hour’ is a heartbreakingly beautiful contribution to the modern classical genre. The thirteen tracks are all meticulously crafted and ring out with a dark luminosity, like an elegy to our troubled times”. – 1631 Recordings

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PREMIERE: The End Approaches from Lonely Satellite by Lena Natalia

LN_Lonely_Satellite_coverA native of Chicago where she is currently based, composer, producer, and musician Lena Natalia spent several years living in Paris and, indeed, much of her music manages to capture that elusive je ne sais quoi and aura of timeless elegance and melancholic romanticism that the mere mention of the city evokes for many. While that remains true on her forthcoming album Lonely Satellite, the new record also finds her displaying new facets to her work right down to the eye-catching cover and the message it conveys.

“The intent is that the cat and the device are both, in fact, “lonely satellites,” seeing each other from their own, very distant vantage points. They are two beings making a connection; there is a sense of longing. They are also both satellites in the sense that they are solitary objects separated from something, somewhere else, while always remaining in each other’s orbit.” – Lena Natalia

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Sound Impression: Version & Delineation by Caught in the Wake Forever & glacis [Crow Versus Crow]

CvsC_VD_coverThe arrival of the Fall equinox in Britain today seems the perfect time to cast a light on a lovely EP just released by Crow Versus Crow, an interdisciplinary project based in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire which also includes a radio show, podcast, and visual design work. Version & Delineation is a collection of improvisational vignettes jointly created by Euan Millar-McMeeken, aka glacis, and Fraser McGowan better known as Caught in the Wake Forever

“These six short works hinge upon glacis’ raw piano improvisations, recorded, without prior planning or subsequent revision, straight to IPhone Voice Memo software…Using the Make Noise System Cartesian & Akai S20 Sampler to incorporate culled and processed snapshots of domestic minutiae, Caught In The Wake Forever’s intricate abstract compositions mirror the fragility and transient ephemerality of glacis’ piano pieces.” – Crow Versus Crow

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PREMIERE: Longest Dawn by LAVALU [1631 Recordings]

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Just a piano and a voice. But not just any piano or any voice. The kind of eloquent and expressive piano that stops time and a charismatic voice that stops you in your tracks with its fierce vulnerability. It is this arresting juxtaposition of influences ranging from Satie & Debussy to Fiona Apple & Regina Spektor that defines the latest album by composer and musical force of nature LAVALU. With its intimate presence and starkly beautiful minimalism, Solitary High distinguishes itself from the jazz-pop crossover sound of her critically acclaimed ‘Now’ (2009) and the theatrical music she composed for Het Pauperparadijs (The Pauper’s Paradise)

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PREMIERE: “Elin” from Tjärn by Klangriket [Piano and Coffee Records]

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Klangriket is a pseudonym chosen by Fabian Rosenberg for his explorations in solo piano and experimental ambient music which he began in 2016 as he sought to find his own voice as a composer and producer and to create an identity apart from the one developed during the preceding years with trumpet and jazz. While there have been sundry singles and sketches as well as a fine studio collaboration with Sjors Mans released last year, the most complete artifact of that period is Rosenberg’s beautiful new 4-track EP Tjärn soon to be released by Piano and Coffee Records.

For the first time here you can listen to the opening track “Elin”, a beguiling introspection consisting of delicate piano intertwined with textural filigree and aching strings. Continue reading

Travelogue 2018.08.19: The Moderna Records Summer Singles Series

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This travelogue entry features the mesmerizing music of the new summer singles series from Moderna Records, a label founded several years ago in Montreal by Évolène Lüthi “to trace a line from electronic sound designers to classical composers, connecting them through the realms of ambient and cinematic music”. 

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Album Stream: Melding by Marika Takeuchi [bigo & twigetti]

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Composer and pianist Marika Takeuchi has been involved with music her entire life. She began studies in classical music at the tender age of three in her native Japan and, at age 18, went on to study composition at Shobi Music College in Tokyo and do early career work for Japanese national radio and Universal Music Japan. In 2009, she moved to the United States to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music and saw the release of here first solo album ‘Night Dream’ before graduating in 2012. Since then, she has continued to work on a wide variety of projects as a composer, pianist, orchestrator, and arranger while continuing to release solo recordings such as ‘Impressions’ (2013), ‘Rain Stories’ (2014), and ‘Colors in the Diary’ (2016) which was produced by Windham Hill founder & Grammy-winning producer Will Ackerman and features cellist Eugene Friesen and Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist Si-Jing Huang. Continue reading

Sound Impression: Piano Works by Lucy Claire

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This past March, London-based composer & producer Lucy Claire began her wonderful new ‘Works’ series, a string of EP releases each featuring a different focus. The second installment has just arrived in the form of Piano Works, a beguiling collection of bittersweet compositions and sketches performed on a range of pianos from grands and uprights to electric keyboards and toy & thumb types. Ever the consummate collaborator, this edition features Lucy alongside guest performances by cellist Ren Ford (Keaton Henson’s Romantic Works), violinist Marie Schreer (The Royal Northern Sinfonia), and ambient guitarist Pete Lambrou (VLMV).

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Travelogue 2018.03.30: Field Notes

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. Continue reading

Duologue: An interview with Barry Kernachan

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On Piano Day 2018 the sounds of musicians will be heard around the globe celebrating a love for one of the most beloved and expressive instruments in the world. Among them will be names that might be new to many listeners such as Barry Kernachan who is releasing his new album to coincide with that special day. Not that he is new to music. Far from it. Barry has been playing since he was a child and writing for a number of years. But Layers is an album where he strips everything back and focuses on the core instrument. It is bright, melodic, and engaging record that piano music lovers will find easy to fall into. In this interview provided by Preserved Sound, Barry talks about the album, his musical journey and his improvisational process.   Continue reading

Sound Impression: Metaphors by Glacis [22.16.04 Records]

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space…This work was born in the silence between other major projects. The work explores the subtle beauty of the piano in an attempt to capture something warm and real and alive.” – Euan Alexander Millar-McMeeken aka Glacis

These days truth is hard to find and even harder to hear amidst the din and chaos of a world that seems to be spinning ever faster towards madness. For many of us that makes albums like Metaphors quite precious. Just a man and his piano speaking truth in the euphonic language of  wordless song. And what lovely songs they are – simple, profound, memorably melodic, and bound to the space in which they were created  by the creak and hum of the piano which was preserved in the recordings.  Continue reading