Stefano Guzzetti – Alone (night music for piano solo).

Stefano Guzzetti is an Italian musician and composer who has also recorded under the Waves on Canvas alias. His works have been released on esteemed labels such as Home Normal, P*Dis,  Brooklyn Bridge Records and his own Stella Recordings imprint. He was signed to Mute Publishing in 2016 and has had the legendary Vaughan Oliver (v23/4ad fame) design some of his covers. His most recent release on the Stella Recordings imprint, “Alone (night music for piano solo)” sold out its 100 copy run in 24 hours.

The initial impression is the recording is lo-fi which lends to it a feeling of intimacy in that you are there during the recordings.  The truth is that, as alluded in the title, these pieces were recorded during nights across 2016 where  Stefano used pieces of felt next to the piano strings as not to disturb people. The emphasis was to play quiet pieces which he has succeeded with on this album, that clocks in just over half an hour in duration.

While I have no musical training or understanding of the various styles of piano playing I have to observe from the moods or themes I feel are presented in the pieces to understand and appreciate them.

With a genre like Modern Classical it is quite easy for the music to be mournful or melancholic. An instrument like piano can fully embed the genre with a specific tone or sound. With titles like “Alone”, “Sleepless” and “Fade” as well as the album’s title can lead the listener to an easy first impression, but I do not think this is so.

The album opened up with “Home” a filmic piece that brings to mind of a movie scene where a person is making a long journey, by foot back to their home. The video that accompanies the track has a home movie vibe to it. “Sleepless” follows next and is an early highlight with its layer of elements and motifs. The playing has a consistency and the repetition (in a good way) is central to the piece. “Alone” feels it could be an accompaniment to “Sleepless” and is the first track in which the padding is first heard.

“Night” is a more mournful piece which is almost drone like where the notes are extended out with presumably some additional synth. The piece changes where at first the image is of a late night contemplative piece,  but with the introduction of the drone makes it evolve into a dawn rising piece. It is the second highlight of the album.

“Moonlit” is a classic Modern Classical piece with rolling lines and alternating harmonies and shows Stefano is adept at his craft.

“Berceuse” mixes the melancholy with sharper tones. The word Berceuse means “a musical composition that resembles a lullaby. Tonally most berceuses are simple, often merely alternating tonic and dominant harmonies “. While my aforementioned lack of musical knowledge once again comes to the fore, I can safely say this piece does not come across as simple and merely alternating tones.

“Closer”, ironically the penultimate track once more brings more film image with its rolling piano lines that bring up visions of some sort of resolution in a relationship.  The album’s actual final track, the seven minutes long “Fade” brings the pace back with minimal tones and additional synth drones that become the central piece of the track and makes great bookend for the album, in fact it could be the standout track.

This is another fine release by Stefano and his Stella Recordings label and piques the interest in his forthcoming Home Normal release due out by the end of the year.

Lorenzo Masotto – Aeolian Processes.

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“By the moment my hands touch the piano and I begin to compose, my conscience starts a journey, leaving my body. During its wandering shows me pictures of the places it encounters, creating a sort of connection between my unconscious and my fingers. The colors, the landscapes, the faces of the people it photographs along the way are so clear in my mind to allow me to portray those images, using only the sound that a piano can paint.”

So says Italian pianist Lorenzo Masotto who’s most recent release “Aeolian Processes” came out on the Russian label Dronarivm on March 17. This follows releases on labels such as Preserved Sound and Alfa music.

Aeolian Processes is defined as “pertaining to wind activity in the geology and weather and specifically the wind’s ability to shape the Earth (or other planets)

Although I have not heard Masotto’s two previous releases and cannot compare this release to them (nor ascertain if the music matches the title of the album), what is striking is the use of electronic elements and instrumentation that compliment the solo piano. Such is the skill that this could sit comfortably in the Erased Tapes catalog.

Lorenzo who plays in the prog/post-rock band La Machere di Clara while also making music for film while teaching piano and composition and directing an all male choir.  On “Aeolian Processes” he also performs all the music with the deftness of Iran’s Porya Hatami great work in the mastering process.

The album starts with “Arctic Summer” which starts with Piano and a rich backing of layered electronics, looped material, some type of strings that builds as the track progresses and gives the listener a taste of what to expect. This is not just a solo Modern Classical release.  The electronic element is brought to the fore on “Space Flowers” with it being a more central element that the piano compliments rather than vice versa. The elements come and go and serve to highlight each other. “Drone” adds an almost Jazz/ almost Breakbeat percussion into the mix with multi layering of piano, electronics and some indistinguishable vocal parts and is a true highlight of the release.

His work in a the previously mentioned Prog/Post-Rock band seems to influence tracks like “My Great Grandmother Lived in the Mountains” (which reminds me of early Pivot), “Aeolian Processes” and “Repeater” reminding me of film work like the Exorcist theme or if Tangerine Dream did their soundtrack work on piano as opposed to a wall of synths.

Dronarivm have been around for 5 years now and under the steady management of Dmitry Taldykin and curatorship of Bartosz Dziadosz have put out another in their line of quality releases.