Nighttime. Full moon. A good meal, wine, sake, cheese and homegrown cherry tomatos. The possible sight of ‘falling stars’ in the Pleiades. If ‘the seven sisters’ are kind to us, this might be a magical night. So what better music to play than some beautiful modern classical music with nothing but piano and some minimal soundscapes?
Gianluca Piacenza is a pianist, composer and sound designer from Piacenza, Italy and he loves making music, according to his website. This album is available as a digital download in most of the well-known online stores but unfortunately not on CD or vinyl (yet – it should). When he submitted this album for a review, he claimed to make music in the style of people like Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins, Max Richter or Olafur Arnalds. In a way that’s true but to be quite honest, I really like this more than those.
I’ll tell you why. Many pianists/composers these days seem to have three possible inclinations. One is an electronic approach, filled with programmed percussion and layers of drones. The second is the look-what-I-can-do version, who stuns the audience with sheer speed. The final one is the one who needs an orchestra to make the whole complete. Gianluca Piacenza does things a bit different.
The album opens with title track ‘Dream’, a beautiful and quite romantic sounding piano piece without any soundscapes, electronics or orchestral arrangements as far as I can hear. Just piano, slow, dreamy and pure. On ‘Reflections’ the effects and ambient textures do appear but still in a gentle, quiet and restful fashion. From there the album continues to float in that direction and creates a wonderful atmosphere.
‘This Is Real’ follows a similar path as ‘Dream’, minor soundscapes in the background and an enchanting fairytale told by the ivory and hammers of the piano. ‘Mutations’ takes the level of experiment a bit higher by incorporating a minor but pulsating rhythm, breaking it down and slowly building it up again. The result is magnificent, a perfect electro-acoustic ambient track.
‘Lullaby’ is exactly what the title predicts. Somehow it indeed does remind me of the music on those musical mobiles above a baby’s crib, but of course in better sound quality and way better music alltogether. The song returns towards the minimal approach in the opening act of this album, making it a perfect finale.
So by all means, if you have ever said anything positive about the modern day composers who appear on jazz- and ambient festivals these days, you have to check out this music. If a romantic movie-soundtrack ever caused a tear in your eyes, you have to give Gianluca Piacenza a chance. This is pure talent…