AMN Reviews: Otto A Totland – Pinô; Takeshi Nishimoto – Lavandula (Sonic Pieces)

Sonic Pieces merrily releases scads of electronic music but also harbours a soft spot for the introspective, acoustic side of its artists and our natures.

One half of Norway´s Deaf Center, Otto A Totland recorded Pinô on the same piano as Nils Frahm used for his wonderous Wintermusik at the latter´s Durton Studios, where it was also recorded and mastered by Frahm. Frahm picks up whatever chooses to drift into the room, from a thrice-cawing crow to the relieved release of breath expelled by the pianist at the end of a piece. Fantastic the tension and intimacy generated as the microphone is turned up, up to capture the absolutely very last sound the final note makes as it dies out. Eighteen miniatures, just the piano and its very audible bones and the air around it, played with exquisite precisenss. Friendly, melodic storytelling, like “Solêr”, which begs for a lyric, the Harold Buddian “Aquet”, the disarming title track, the slightest Celtic brough of “Seveen”. A taste of asymmetrical rural folk song, a hint of Norwegian national romanticism on “Frost”, and a little music hall carnival with “Jonas”.

Classically-trained guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto has been easing himself into electronica for years. This is only his second solo album, though he has released a half dozen albums with Californian producer John Tejada as I´m Not a Gun. Nishimoto opens Lavandula with “Late Summer Early Autumn” – you can feel warm rays slanting to give way to evening chill but also giving flight to an enchanting tune with Mediterranean brio. As with each of the seven keenly wrought pieces, he has friends tinge their edges with the most restrained and thus most memorable electronic colour and percussion – Robert Lippok (To Rococo Rot) adds the breeze of memory to “Remembrance”, an eddy of synthesizers to the tail of “Tone Water”, a grizzled edge to the dimly-lit “Straßenlaterne”, and Burnt Friedman steel pan on “Late Summer Early Autumn” and “6/8”.

Two perfectly complementary releases.

Stephen Fruitman

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