Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jake Carmichael - 2012 - Piano I

Instrumental piano
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The piano remains popular among aspiring musicians for a reason: even on its own, it can convey a world of emotions and scenes. If you don’t believe me, just see how much Jake Carmichael does with it in Piano I, which runs less than fifteen minutes in total but crams an impressive amount of substance into that short time. Most of the pieces here are one-offs, short conceptual pieces that play like sketches: “Inspiration at a Freakshow” charms with its impish unpredictability and compelling atmosphere, while “Self Destruction, Heroin, and Heaven” runs at a more contemplative tempo and focuses on layered chord progressions rather than artsy flourishes. Funnily enough, though, the best track here is also the least gimmicky: “Crystal Cave”, which alone takes up over a third of the total running time, finds endless ways to reconstruct its one motif throughout, as the pace shifts from rushed to hushed and the production drifts from cloudy nostalgia to stark lucidity. The result evokes some of ambient artist Eluvium’s finest work—a piece that hides surprising depth in its simplicity and proof of Carmichael’s smart composing skills and expressive, evocative playing. Both are put to good use in this surprisingly sprawling, emotional, and immersive work.

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