Twin Paradox – TPR003
You might be forgiven for thinking that everything that could possibly be done with a piano has been done. Played, played harder, played drunk like a percussion instrument until the fingers begin to bleed a bit, stood on, worked from the inside, dropped from a high window, freewheeled down stairs, digitised and manipulated in every conceivable way by digital and analogue means, prepared, choked, treated, mistreated in every way imaginable. And then along comes composer, pianist, producer, sound artist and improviser Angelina Yershova. Classically trained, and with a degree in Electronic Music from Conservatory of S. Cecilia in Rome, she’s discovered a ne avenue of exploration for this timeless instrument.
Piano’s Abyss is described as ‘a vertical and progressive immersion within the “abyss” is the piano, an exploration of the expressive soul of the instrument through electronic synthesis, towards the discovery of an evocative and mysterious world that is exclusively constitutes by the drone of the piano.’ Who knew the piano droned? After hearing this album, there can be no doubt as to the claim. Like a micro-camera inserted into the body, or a deep-sea exploration, the audio reveals a slow suspension of ever-shifting sound, deep and low.
Yershova’s studies have been extensive, focusing on the vibrations of the strings, the instrument’s resonances, the mechanical noises of the hammers – the mechanics and inner workings of the piano, in other words – and these hidden aspects of the sound have been manipulated, processed and accentuated, amplified and extended. The results are fascinating and unexpected.
Up above, on the surface, notes recognisable as those of a piano can be heard, clear, but distant and quiet. They resonate and slowly fade into the rumble. The soft tinkling compositions are washed with a liquid tone which envelopes it. Delicate harmonies drift gently – the piano playing itself is beautiful, but the listener’s appreciation and understanding is altered through the alternative vantage point, which places the background sound in the foreground and vice versa. Spurs of sound grate and scrape while strings pinkle amidst a rumbling swell of sound akin to distant thunder or a strong wind funnelling down a bleak valley in winter. The piano sighs, it moans quietly. It breathes, long, elongated breaths. It drones. This is music with a cellular, atomic feel. Hear this album, and the piano will never sound quite the same again.