Composers of piano albums have a challenging but fantastic task each time they create. The instrument is one that’s well-worn and known, but there’s so much you can pin to it, you can have a really open canvas. Matt Emery’s “Empire” chooses just piano and strings to arrange music to and ignores the unusual and focuses on symphonic emotions.
The title track puts it into perspective. A simple piano melody plays out and is accompanied by an ever-growing string arrangement that slowly sweep in and swells to give you all of the feels. It’s a song structure Matt uses throughout the album, and each time it’s really effective because of the mood he conveys each time. Therefore – it doesn’t get stale, even if you know he’s going for the jugular.
“Louloudia” is upbeat and warm, with a flowing river of string rising up to gently play with the piano. “Effervescent” has arpeggios at the speed of light rolling from Emery’s fingertips and a light spacious string backing. “L for Luna” has a string filter in the production to give off a more synthetic but Celtic twang to things. It feels more like a lament than a call to the stars. “Brushstrokes” is cinematic and climactic as the strings become overwrought between sections of beautiful piano. “Asteria” is the only piano only track and it lets you understand how intimately recorded all the noises of the piano case, pedal and hammers are. You can hear them creak and moan throughout the album but here its crystal clear. Across the eleven tracks, much changes but nothing evolves. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and the closer “Oshimai” showcases what a simple melody and rich string arrangement can do.
Ultimately there’s plenty to love here. Matt Emery has a very specific style, and feels like he should join up with the bastion of Icelandic pianists that have emerged over the last few years as he fits right in. If you enjoy a classical styled soundtrack that gets you teary, this will be right up your street.
Recommended track : Oshimai