Majestic healing at the piano keys.
Composed by David Peacock and performed by Augustine Mayuga Gonzales, Gris Piano Collections is the duos latest album. Taking music that is at its core more symphonic than some of their other collaborations (Hollow Knight Piano Collections for example), this album is designed to be played like royalty. The themes are sweeping, rousing and arranged in a way that allows them to flow into emotional peaks and troughs.
Over the fifteen tracks and sixty-five minutes of arrangements, Augustine Mayuga Gonzales recounts the various themes of Gris, originally created by Berlinist. The themes of the original were a clever mix of symphonic strings, distant piano and distorted synths of a sci-fi universe. They fit the piano collections style really well. Where David and Augustine have excelled is in the creation of an emotional rollercoaster. Tracks like ‘Komorebi’, ‘Descent’, ‘Tobu ~ Karasu’ and many others are structured in building blocks. Starting out small and humble, the melody and gravitas of the piano gain momentum until its full power is unleashed. It doesn’t need crazy speed key smashing. Instead, it has a regal and feminine tonality that sweeps with grace over its entire runtime.
To balance these moments of grandeur, a lot of the album is spent giving time to the development of Gris’ themes of mental health and breaking free. ‘Unagi’ is an exception with its dramatic rumbles and rises up the chords. Tracks are more delicate and considered with gently rolling arpeggios such as ‘Firmament’ or pondering skips and trills such as ‘Debris’. These tracks may not be as immediate as many other straightforward piano collections but the devil is in the detail. They feel complete and make Gris Piano Collections feel like a fully fleshed narrative story to pair with the game.
One addition I did really appreciate was the way how piano string plucking is incorporated into the music. It really adds a Renaissance guitar quality to the parts where it turns up and I would have welcomed more of this prepared piano effect elsewhere too. Piano players should also be aware that digital sheet music is available now whilst physical books will be available in 2022.
Whilst it may not be the most obvious and immediately gratifying piano collection, the performance and arrangements here are sublime. Both David Peacock and Augustine Mayuga Gonzales do incredible work to tell the story of Gris and her dress. It’s one of those albums where you don’t realise how much you’ve been enjoying it until it stops. A grower, not a shower – much like the mental health theme the story is about. Keep this one close to your heart.
Recommended track: Descent
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