Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Artist: Chris Abrahams
Title: Climb
Format: CD
Label: Vegetable Records
Rated: *****
This new ring in the chain of solo releases by New-Zealander, but notoriously Sidney-based, pianist and composer Chris Abrahams (mostly known for being one-third of the Australian cult band The Necks, even if he's active in many likewise exciting projects), collects a series of piano-driven studio recordings, supposedly composed or somehow blurted out during personal solo studio improvisations. From the exquisitely technical viewpoint, what impressed my ear is the way by which Chris performs a series of legato and staccato touches within gradually rising runs, a performative strategy that he manages to render using amazing tricks (subtle and sometimes instantaneous changes of scale as well!), even if he keeps on orbiting on the same tones, in tracks like the opening "Roller", the final "Shoreline" (the four compressed tone-made chords spurting out of the central movement are one of the more uprising moment of the whole album) or the lovely "The Sleepings and the Drifts". Likewise fantastic the assay of the so-called vertical phrasing technique in the self-describing track "Overlap", where slight variations of the pressure on the sustain pedal amalgamates tones to the point they get almost indistinguishable and homogenous, as well as the angular imploding of the convoluted phrases in "Fern Scapes" and the feverish rising tension of the lovely "Beach of Black Stones". The movement of "Dog Rose" sounds more predictable, but its almost soothing melody renders the idea summarized by the title - dog roses are Australian flowers that are widely suggested by naturopathic practitioners as a remedy against insomnia, paranoia, fear, and anxiety -. "Climb" sounds like an excellent musical restorative more than a pure pianistic exercise.


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