Adrian Klumpes

Be Still

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A deliberately plotted and executed project involving a combination of intentionality and improvisation, this solo debut recording by the pianist of avant-garde jazz outfit Triosk is the result of a brief three-week compositional period, a single five-hour recording session (it was all the studio time he could afford) conducted with a single piano and microphone setup, and a few months of post-production processing. Comparable in tone and texture to Adrian Klumpes' work with Triosk (particularly their third and final recording, The Headlight Serenade, whose release predated Be Still by only a few months) -- which is to say organic and electronic in equal measure, and vividly emotionally evocative despite being unflinchingly abstract -- Klumpes' work here suggests how much that group's distinctive sonic qualities are derived from his manipulation of his own instrument. Formally, his approach here is even more rarefied, with little if anything connecting it to jazz in any coherent sense, and not much more relating it to the classical tradition (though both musics inform the delicacy and expressiveness of Klumpes' playing). Instead, it's largely indebted to the processes and precepts of minimalism. Each piece tends to linger and explore a small number of sonic effects or a single compositional idea; there's very little sense of progression from one end of a track to another (and certainly never in harmonic or melodic terms), which may explain the stillness of the title. "Weave in and Out" features a persistently ringing high-pitched overtone around which isolated notes and backwards-threaded clusters perform the titular weaving. The brief, eerie "Why" centers around menacing drones and grating, gristly whines with occasional spurts of percussive static -- very little of it recognizable as sourced from a piano. On the other end of the electro-acoustic spectrum, the title cut leaves its meandering piano musings largely untampered with, merely heavily reverbed and with a undercurrent of resonant white noise, while "Unrest" superimposes multiple otherwise unadorned tracks to create a dense mass of flitting, fluttering chords that shift gradually over ten minutes without approaching anything like a tonal center. Ultimately, despite its variety of moods and production approaches, Be Still doesn't offer as much range or inventiveness as a Triosk recording, but it does make for a fluid, evocative, potentially haunting, and certainly cohesive listening experience, one that reveals considerable richness beyond its surface simplicity.

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