Chilly Gonzales / Gonzales

Solo Piano II

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It's fair to say that Chilly Gonzales has not followed a traditional career path. Early on a comedy rapper with surprising wit, later a foil to his touring counterpart Peaches, still later a Berlin-based dance producer of throwback house, and, finally, through it all (going back to his college days at McGill University), a composer for piano and performer, he's followed a career arc that probably isn't even visible to Gonzales himself. His first album of Solo Piano appeared in 2004, revealing his skills on the keyboard to be primarily as a contemplative pastoralist rather than a furious virtuoso. (Conserving energy is likely what helped him break a Guinness world record for the longest solo concert, playing piano over two days in May 2009.) This style actually proved quite appealing to fans of his varied approach to music-making, much more so than any Sony Masterworks type of classical superstar. (Granted, anyone who's stuck around over the past 20 years, from his days in the alternative band Son to The Entertainist to Solo Piano II, has been nothing if not patient.) The second volume is quite similar to the first, with several nods to masters of the impressionist piano (Erik Satie, Frédéric Chopin). Gonzales also proves willing and able to be more playful than he has in the past, perhaps a nod to his frequent scoring of films; the solo piano form often harks back to the days of silent film, and that's an easy reference to make here. Since he's not a world-class performer, most classical fans won't find music of interest here, but Solo Piano II is an engaging record with a personality all its own.

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