Hania Rani is a Polish composer and pianist based in Warsaw. After many collaborations — including in 2015, the fantastic Biała flaga with cellist Dobrawa Czocher — she released her debut solo album Esja, in 2019. An introduction to Rani’s music now completed by her latest project Home, released this year — and once again on the British label Gondwana Records. While Esja presented the pianistic side of her creative identity, this new release is the ideal support for a development as an all-round artist and producer.
Home is interesting on multiple levels.
On a first one, there is of course the way Rani approaches the piano — already well developed in Esja. But the composer does not repeat herself and shows great interest in pushing her own instrumental boundaries. “Buka” is mostly rhythmic, almost treating the piano as a percussion instrument — which is what it really is —, as is “Letter to Glass” that bounces rhythmical cells against each other. “Rurka” — a Polish word for tube — takes a well-known compositional device of alternating bass and gives it a harmonic treatment by moving it around tonalities. “F Major” is based on a half-step melodic move that creates a constant tension and is emphasised by the rhythmic intensity of the piece, as well as the contrasting softness of the instrument, also reflected in “Ombelico”.
Then there is the production work done by Rani. Whether in “Nest” that introduces strings and aerial textures, “Summer”, based on a trinity of acoustic piano, natural field recordings and pulsating synth layer, or “Tennen” that takes a similar format, pushing the percussive aspect of the music — with the addition of drummer Wojtek Warmijak, present on many tracks of the album. Indeed, Rani has expanded her solo formation to the one of a trio, featuring Warmijak and bassist Ziemowit Klimek.
Finally, the biggest element of surprise lies in Rani’s voice — and words — on many tracks of Home; from “Leaving”, “I’ll Never Find Your Soul” “Home” — and the lifting “Zero Hour” that follows — and “Come Back Home”. Her singing is somehow shy and discreet, light and controlled — at times mantra-esque; a reflection of her approach to piano music. Her message is diverse, whether in the idea of finding home or feeling at peace with oneself.
In both of her albums, Rani’s musical growth is obvious; she is finding confidence in her art. Home is another development for the artist. While Esja was considered as her first personal statement, Home brings certainty in her capability at expanding on her own foundations and venturing in unknown territories. The composer takes inspiration in many other forms of art — such as architecture — and it reflects in the precision of her music as well as her visual identity.
There is continuity and uniformity in her works; Rani musical personality is evident, and is a delight.