Theo Alexander is a Prague based London composer who has appeared on labels such as Blank Editions and 1631 Recordings while also releasing music himself with cd, cassette and digital release. “Palliative” is a standalone digital single that will appear on his forthcoming “Broken Access” release which was inspires by various live performances throughout 2017 including Piano Day and as support for Agnes Obel.
Alexander states “Palliative features an extended tape loop droned which guides a developing piano motif into a thickly textured harmonic apex“.
The piece opens with the sounds of a taped performance, glitches of technology breaking down and a repeating tape loop of piano which becomes the central rhythm of the piece and sounds like it’s ebbing and flowing. As mentioned on Alexander’s bandcamp page this was constructed using just a piano and a Tascam 414 tape recorder. The loop is joined by Alexander’s piano playing which is full of restraint. Where needed the emphasis on playing is gentle and when a bit more immediacy is required it is there as well. A long form drone joins the sound mix acting as a middle layer between the tape loop and the piano playing on top. It sounds horn like with a long duration and its fluctuations work well alongside the loops.
As the track enters the second half of its almost seven and a half minutes the intensity is increased with more layers of piano joining just as Alexander stated in becoming entwined in a textured harmonic apex. Towards the end the layers appear to mix together to form an almost jangling end.
I have to admit being unaware of Alexander and his music, but note his use of tape and loops in other releases and can see that he is quite adept with this technique. For essentially a solo piano piece the length of seven and a half minutes can be occasionally tiring, but not with this particular track. It will be interesting to see how the rest of “Broken Access” turns out when it is released.