Michael Neal is an American composer who in the past few years has collaborated and worked on projects from acoustic and metalcore, to more recently video games, films and his own releases. His latest, Lapse, is his fourth and first with the Italian label Blue Spiral Recordings. Neal takes the opportunity—through ten piano pieces—to display his growth as a composer; with a piece of work that is keyboard based, but that displays a full range of emotions and techniques, as well as musical subjects.
Lapse opens on the big and ambiguous chords of Diminish, a piece where multi-layered piano lines float and overlap each other creating a sensation of suspension. Glass Shards is another drifting piece that surprises with its improvisatory feel. This impression is echoed in parts of Teckniq, through interesting horizontal pianistic lines—there is also a sense of tension with Neal’s choice of emphasis on outside approach notes in his melodies. The notion of repetition is of course omnipresent in Lapse, such as in The Harmony of Contradiction—that is based on a constant rhythmic pattern—or Snow—that revolves around one musical idea, looped over and over. Finally, The Lotus Veil, Angel Wings (Reworked), Everything Deconstructs or Adrift—a darker one—are lyrical song-like piano pieces, that recall the work of British-South Korean pianist Yiruma, and strike with their sense of accessibility and familiarity for the listener’s ears.
With Lapse, Neal intended to reach and influence many different people on a wide global scale. One certainty is the accessibility of his work, as well as its capacity at communicating through a simple musical language. There is a strong emphasis on melodic material that translates through pianistic lyricism, however the American composer does not limit his release to easy-listening and sprinkles his pieces with surprising musical shifts and turns.