Usually found making sounds from a piano you’d never dream of, Hauschka’s new album ‘A Different Forest’ is a complete palette cleanser. It removes all elements of the prepared piano and returns to a much more traditional, almost improvisational style of piano playing.
Across the album’s 44 minutes of music, Hauschka plays with the feelings of wandering without and without direction and the feelings of being in nature. These feelings are best showcased for me in tracks like ‘Hike’, ‘Another Hike’ and ‘Hands in the Anthill’. Each of these three encompass a fluttering flow that match their titles. The first two are some of the most melodic and catchy tracks as the need to explore and pres on continues, whereas the the later is like a fountain of ants erupting and tumbling down the piano keys.
Elsewhere, much of the album of spent in a contemplative mood with long decays of inquisitive chord structures and patterns. The long ‘Woodworkers’ embodies this mood with its spacious delivery. More tellingly ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Talking to My Father’ are some of the most sombre and emotive tracks. ‘Urban Forest’ has the slightest dissonance in the keys as if Hauschka is conveying that an urban forest is somewhat drowning out or skewing the sounds of nature itself.
Lastly, two tracks break away from the piano solo structure. ‘Skating Through the Woods’ has some gentle synth work that marks the track as one of the standouts. It feels like your floating on air and is utterly beautiful. The other track, ‘Daybreak Over Covent Garden’ introduces percussive wind rattles as the track bubbles up to its explosive middle section. It sounds like birds taking flight as the Earth wakes up.
‘A Different Forest’ is a very new classical piano album. There’s a lot of subtle tweaks and nods going on under the surface but the main melodies are often ones of feeling rather than ones that will catch your immediate attention. It would be rude to call it mood music, because it isn’t. I did however decide to take this album on a walk into my local park (in absence of a forest) and found it really increase my enjoyment of it. Therefore I label Hauschka’s latest album a great explorers album – take it on a wander about and it will feel right at home.
Recommended track: Skating Through the Woods
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