ambient classical composer contemporary classical dream folk ethereal modern classical piano review

Tom Rogerson – Retreat To Bliss Review

An intimate snapshot of moments in time.

What does Tom Rogerson sound like?

Soft and clean vocals playing curved support to intimate piano moments.

The review of Tom Rogerson – Retreat To Bliss

Composer Tom Rogerson has crafted an album that feels like moments of silence that have been twisted into sound. The pianist uses careful sound design and the softest of piano hammers to bring texture and beauty to his work. “Return to Bliss” is the first time Tom Rogerson has combined his piano work with not just bits of electronica but his own voice too. It’s a brave voyage but a welcome one.

Tom Rogerson - photo by Matt Jolly
Tom Rogerson – photo by Matt Jolly

The album crosses the gambit of modern classical piano and ethereal piano pop. The first two songs showcase both extremes beautifully. “Descent” is a waterfall trickle of notes and piano hammer ambience. A mixture of beauty and intrigue, the cascade never fully reveals its final destination but curiously draws you in regardless. “Oath” has fast arpeggiating but slow chord progression with Tom’s singing transitioning from background hum to central declarations over the course of the song. Tom’s clean vocals offer purity and innocence to the track too and it’s an album standout.

Elsewhere other silences or moments in time are more abstract and less linear. “Buried Deep” offers a simple motif that transitions from deep inside a piano to muted keys. “Toumani” feels classically European as the virtuoso right-hand spirals the keys in increasing chaos and wonder. The track is inspired by how the legendary Toumani Diabate plays the Kora. It is like the piano is conveying the fingerpicking of the kora playing style and the music feels exhilarating and freeform. Tom Rogerson is an artist who has previously spent a lot of time with improvisation and I believe that carries through into moments of this album, with “Toumani” being a frantic example of it. “Drone Finder Part 2” is like a desolate hand of time searching for closure and the offset whisps of additional keys showcases how Tom makes a frame to improvise inside.

Tom Rogerson and his voice pop up throughout the album but “Chant” is the track where he flexes most. Underscored by a barely audible icy hue, his voice has a hollow filter over it to evoke an “in church” ambience which becomes more effective as the track builds. The mirror opposite in terms of passion, “Rapture 1” is a reign of thundering rumbles of notes that drowns out Tom’s voice into a background cry. The subtle shifts of volume and mic positioning do a lot for the album. Volume and space make the haunting “A Clearing” feel both cinematic and unique. Charlotte Martin’s solo piano music fans will love this.

There is a lot to love on “Return To Bliss” and its title track towards the end of the album showcases most of it. A warm piano motif that warps and expands into something more grande than the sum of its parts, leaning on light electronic synths and Tom’s voice to carve out his niche. It is a beautiful, intimate and thoughtful album that plays out like a secret you’ve just uncovered. Tom shouldn’t worry about adding synths or vocals to his future works, this is a beautiful turn.

Recommended track: Chant

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Tom Rogerson - Retreat to Bliss

8

8.0/10

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