Today welcomes the next release for the UK based Bigo & Twigetti label which comes from Ben Crosland. But before I talk/write about “The Turn”, there is the matter of the “Perceptions” compilation which is now available to pre-order. Previously the first batch of two track singles were covered here from Olan Mill, Wilson Trouvé, Simeon Walker and Julia Gjertsen. Since this time singles from Garreth Broke, Matt Stewart-Evans, Jim Perkins and Luke Wyland have also dropped and these eight pieces are now available with your pre-order with the full album being unveiled on September 3.
“Perceptions is a singles series and compilation exploring different approaches to creating music for piano. The series features pieces written for solo piano which capture a performance, tracks which combine piano performance with subtle splashes of effects such as delay or granular synthesis and those which are constructed from recordings which have been transformed through layering, effects processing, binaural / 3D recording techniques and arranged to create an immersive listening experience.”
The next batch of singles which are included on the album are from Garreth Broke and Matt Stewart-Evans, Jim Perkins and Luke Wyland, Ben Crosland and Madeleine Cocolas, Christopher Dicker and Josh Kramer, Marika Takeuchi and Blurstem and finally Leah Kardos and Cedric Vermue. The album is a nicely international one with artists from the UK, US, Australia, The Netherlands and Turkey (via the US). Other than their geographical background the artists also come from different approaches whether it be from the film and TV world through to more ambient / electronic backgrounds, or in Christopher Dicker’s case the metalcore band House Vs Hurricane. The end result shows a compilation that very much so lives up to it’s title and theme, which is a god send in this time of a wealth of piano based music.
The beauty of the album is it’s variance. Much like any form of music you can get a bit ground down or overwhelmed by the amount of music released in a particular style. This can lead you to turn you off the music or stop you from noticing the beauty contained within the music. From time to time I find doing this blog a real struggle and go through peaks and troughs with my enthusiasm (which usually correlates to the increased submissions), but it’s when I put those feelings to one side and just listen, an album such as this helps turn the corner. A piece like Matt Stewart-Evans’ “Rebuild” is the type that casts away any dark clouds with it’s vibrant playing and balancing quite traditional classical sounds/feeling with ever so slight contemporary electronic touches and the slight cymbal taps that are so inspired Ben Crosland’s “Passing Through” also has a melodic touch although in a more loop like jaunting fashion with a touch of melancholy as well.
The other pieces seem to be split between those in the more traditional way from Leah Kardos, Christopher Dicker, Marika Takeuchi, Cedric Vermue , Jim Perkins and Garreth Broke versus the more electronic influenced pieces from Madeleine Cocolas, Blurstem and Josh Kramer. Cocolas’ “In Distance” shows restraint where the elrectronics feel that they could change the dynamics of the piece and Kardos’ “Retracing Your Lines” has a ghostly, romantic presence. Marika Takeuchi shines on “Unspoken Words” while “Hour Of Mind” by Blurstem (aka Chris Bartels aka Eskavon) ventures into abstract electronics that re-imagine the piano and it’s place in the music as does Josh Kramer with his epic slice of Electronica / Modern Classical “Transcend”. Cedric Vermue with his raw, naked, close recorded “And Then We Danced” emulates the feel of Simeon Walker’s “Close” and Christopher Dicker, Luke Hyland and label boss venture into more melancholic and introspective territories with each track sounding different.
If you are looking for explorations of music using the piano as the main source of inspiration and sound then you really can do no wrong with this compilation. The track listing has been designed to take you on a sound journey with the purpose of exploring the piano at it’s heart. I won’t pick a favourite, although track six is pretty special. “Perceptions” is a Digital only release with pre-orders available now.
“Recorded as Storm Ciara swept across the UK in February 2020, this new collection of works from Worcester based pianist, Ben Crosland, seems almost prescient with its themes of distance, remembrance, change and calm reflection. The aching romanticism of Oceans Apart, the mysterious exoticism of The Hourglass, and the song-like reverence of A Departure provide the backbone to a collection of six short works that find commonality in their succinct melodic narratives.”
“The Turn” is a short, sharp six track, thirteen minute Ep of slightly longer than vignette length pieces. “Ciara” moved across Europe causing destruction and the deaths of just over a dozen people. Reading the press quote I was anticipating pieces that may have a darker tone to them or utilise field recordings. This is not the case. What Crosland offers is six pieces that are mostly pensive with the title track nicely feeling lyrical with an subdued but emotive touch. Some pieces that are shorter in length can be just bite sized chunks or fully formed pieces. The only piece that is close to “chunk” like nature and only just, is the opener “Oceans Apart” which you would love to hear extended upon.
Crosland has a background in teaching music which could almost make the music academic, but that is not the case. He also has a background in Sound Design which resonates through the pieces as they have varying dynamics which made me assume prior to finding out about him, that he was an experienced film and television composer. This feeling I had is best shown on the piece “A Departure” which rounds the collection out and sees his interest in electronics and sound design creep in every so nicely from a distance. The ambient touch the track receives is one that is gentle and not over powering which makes both the electronics and piano stand independently of each other and make it easy to admire both.
Naturally the pieces are drawn from a similar inspiration so have a consistent feel. Once you listen to “Passing Through” from the above compilation you realise there are many sides to Crosland’s music and these six pieces are but one particular style. “The Turn” is available Digitally.