Making the piano mechanical
Bruno Sanfilippo’s piano-based music continues to oscillate around melodic or atmospheric moods and with his new album released on New Years Day called ‘Pianette’, he returns back to the more melodic side of his compositions.
‘Pianette’, as an album, is the most structured and melodic of Bruno’s work for some time. There is a music box and ballet-like quality to the majority of the tracks and that’s clear from the opening title track. This is because the album itself is inspired in part by mechanical toys. It sets the tone of lush but dampened melodies, quietly beavering away under the surface. It also sets the pattern for the chords and notes being used as often at points during each track the music veers into a slight dissonance of chord change that makes you feel like something is beautiful – but not quite right. It’s a gentle curious mark that draws you into so many of the pieces such as ‘Paloma’ which revels in that state.
As the album moves forward we also start to dive inside the piano with its intimate microphone set up. ‘DOLL’ feels percussive with its stops, hammers and dampeners alluding to that mechanical toy feel. ‘Marionette’ sounds like there is a guitar playing too but its all in the pianos internals. It’s not quite like a prepared piano, but the softness of the sound really helps craft the tracks where this type of audio production is used. The album refuses to build up or slow down too much – it has an intensity to it that reminds me of old Europe and that comes home in the closing track ‘Goodness’ which is as close to a dramatic finale as the album gets.
Bruno Sanfilippo has made my favourite work of his with ‘Pianette’. It’s unashamedly new-classical in its composition, eerie with its tense production and melodic dissonance and oh so subtle in how it uses the piano to create mechanical life. The piano is easily one of the most expressive instruments on Earth, so playing these two ideas off against each other has created an inspired album of muted greatness.
Recommended track: DOLL
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