‘Companion’ is the fourth solo album for pianist and composer Quentin Sirjacq. His style over the last few years has evolved so that whilst the piano is absolutely front and centre, it’s often joined with guest musicians and instruments to showcase how the piano. This idea shows just how a piano can act like a companion for other styles, genres, variations and themes. ‘Companion’ works just like this, providing interesting soundscapes over immediate hooks to create moods.
Opening the album is the nine-minute epic ‘Variations’. Playing between a soft and up close piano and a prepared piano, Quentin starts the piece off slowly and laid back. Before long electronic beats are joined by rolling marimbas and the song slides into an electronica piece with orchestral elements to it. It’s really quite clever as each transition feels natural. ‘Carol’ moves the electronica around to a looping wheel of sounds whilst the piano itself is taken into an echoing reverb filled space. It sounds like it’s been recorded inside an empty church. This makes the piece sound warm and inviting with a hint of winter cheer when the bells come in. ‘Dance’ instead focuses on tuned percussion. Glockenspiels, xylophones and marimbas all delight the ears with their plucky tones and twinkling eyes. A marching beat kicks in halfway and the whole piece reminds me of an RPG forest theme.
The album as a whole is very contemplative and ‘Will you be there’ is the peak of that feeling. With just the piano gently and carefully plodding through a slow-motion piece, you’ll feel the loneliness seep through every note. Taking a turn back to the chirpy light as air wonder, ‘Organum’ mixes up all the tuned percussion from before with a chirpy bird song organ arrangement. It’s so bright and breezy, it’s like an indie kids cartoon piece and reminds me of DVA and their Botanicula score. In terms of showcasing instruments, it also sits well with ‘Harmonium’ and ‘Choral’. These tracks showcase the harmonium, harpsichord and the drums. The former is a dark and clinical ambience piece whereas the latter is like a sci-fi drum solo that unwinds itself like a windup toy. All that leaves the title track ‘Companion’ which is a quiet and meditative piano and synth piece.
What really impressed me with Quentin Sirjacq and his album is that not one track takes an easy or simple route. They are all based in some kind of technique or thought process and each track works it through to a conclusion. Whilst that may alienate a few people who need a strong melodic riff, it allows Quentin to really play around with sound and feeling. Sirjacq feels like he is making a statement about how a piano can be a companion in composition without really being the main event and I think he has pulled it off excellently.
Recommended track: Dance
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