A warm oasis of calm.
Oliver Patrice Weder, or OPW as he sometimes calls himself, returns after his excellent debut album with ‘The Pool Project’. After moving from the UK to Spain, Weder recorded his new album in a pool house surrounded by an evergreen oak tree forest. This calmness and Latin influence feature heavily in a variety of unusual ways across an intriguing album. It doesn’t reveal all its greatness on the first play.
Most of the tracks use a very subtle and gentle piano playing technique that often mutes the notes or gives them a prepared chime sound. It might be the hushed jazz undertones of ‘Peter’ where the lead piano echoes away like a chime. It might be the cute dreamy haze and detuned distant clunk of the keys with ‘Encina’. It could be the in-room sounds of ‘Togetherness’ that brings innate warmth. Every song feels warm, lush, textured and wholesome. Whilst the songs are slow and delicate, they aren’t sad. They feel like an elixir of comfort.
‘The Pool Project’ excels for me, not in the melody. but in the sound design of everything that supports the piano. Oliver Patrice Weder enlists the support of Club de Rio – a trio of singers who perform some of the quietest and softest vocals I’ve heard in ages. They are barely a coo or an ooh but they give an ethereal hum to half of the album. Not once do they take over but on the closer ‘Distant Island’, as the muted piano and guitar trickle around your ears, their soothing voice is more akin to a panpipe. The second feature is an alto flute and bass clarinet. Again, in keeping with this whole album’s subtle softness, don’t expect a single note to shine. Instead, each delicate note is like audio velvet caressing your ear. Together with the voices, I felt like Oliver was bringing me to the calm depths of a South American forest. It’s beautiful and hypnotic.
The third element of the backup to the piano comes in the form of electronic manipulations. On a couple of the tracks like ‘Lala’, the music brings in some minimal bleeps and clicks. These form muted percussive loops to give tracks a bit more body. Alongside the album, Spitfire Audio will be releasing The Pool Project as a sound design pack for musicians to buy and play with. This happened with OPW too, Oliver’s debut solo album and that was great fun. I expect the same level of greatness here too.
With a plethora of styles, tunings, ideas and dreamy soundscapes, Oliver Patrice Weder has made an album that will grow with you over time. Upon each listen, I find more things that I love. It is such a comforting album during a time of personal chaos at least for me, that it’s cathartic to just let the pool wash over me. Breathe out. Smile. Onwards. That’s the space ‘The Pool Project’ provides. It does so expertly.
Recommended track: Margarita
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