UTO'PIANS VOL. I

London, 2020

Blue Spiral Record is well-known for making fine compilations — the label started its career with the release of piano compilations, The Minimal Piano Series. A little different this time, their latest compilation Uto’pians Vol. I — a contraction of utopiste and piano — was curated by Jordane Tumarinson, an artist that has previously released with the label (L’Envol in 2019). The compilation, which has been done in order to honour nature and life, presents a selection of popular artists to the label — such as Zito and Scardino — and some excellent discoveries such as Hof and Crisman. 

 

“Safe Here” introduces Uto’pians Vol. I; the Swedish composer’s Erik Slättberg’s pleasing ballad underlines a message of comfort and safety, and has a very enjoyable folk atmosphere, which is maintained through the following piece by Sharon Lynn Makarenko, “Elysian”. “Ad Ethereal”, by the Spanish composer Carlos Hof, is one of the best discovery of the album, either through its interesting musical structure or the choice of rhythmic textures. It is also agreeable to hear more of Alsina, since her solo release in 2017, Domum. “What Kind of World” is another delight of hers, although full of heavier suggestions. “Birth” by Tumarinson sounds pleasantly French: the waltz, the butterfly pattern, the structure in episodes… Armel Dupas’ “La Valeur de l’air” gives the centre of attention to the sound between the notes and adds an elegant breather to the album. “Everything Changes”, by Dario Crisman, sounds very familiar — one can even hear the ghost of Bach’s BWV 846. Rebecca Jean Rossi’s “Stella Alpina” is another sweet ballad, that takes an Einaudi flavor towards the last third of the piece. “Neighbors”, by Kōya Ogata & Wataru Sato, is one of the pearls of the compilation; a piece that reflects the personalities and cultural identities of both the composer and the performer. “Diamond Sky” by Pavel Fedorov, has an interesting duality between romanticism and freshness, and “Flowers in the Rain” by Emiliana Prčik has a very celestial aspect to it — mostly due to its high range melodic pattern. Zito’s “Earth” has an original treatment of the piano sound and Scardino delivers a very tender ballad with “Ges”, whose contrasting impressionistic section gives an elegant musical twist. Finally, James Lebreton and Shadoko provide the compilation with the most cinematic piece of the compilation, “Behind the Masks”.

 

Part of the profits for Uto’pians Vol. I have been donated to La Senda Verde Animal Sanctuary in Bolivia in order to raise awareness about climate change through music. More than a musical offering, Tumarinson’s project aims at altruism, and through unity aims at creating strength. It is a compilation full of optimism and positivity, and it reflects in the selection of pieces and composers. There will be a follow-up — a second volume — and the French composer has mentioned giving the curation to other artists, which announces a bright and exciting future for Uto’pians.

 

© 2020 Doug Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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