Dmitry Shubin & Alexey Ivanov: Emphasis [Bandcamp]

a2130682065_16Pianist Dmitry Shubin and drummer/electronics artist Alexey Ivanov begin the long single track Emphasis paradoxically, by introducing their instruments through an anonymous series of tappings on wood and scrapings of loose metal and taut strings. Eventually the identifiable profiles of piano and drums emerge in the muffled roll of sticks on drumheads, the surging crescendo of vibrating cymbals, and the reverberations of a piano chord repeatedly struck at well-placed intervals. As the piece unfolds, the initial ambiguity of the instruments’ identities finds a parallel in the larger ambiguity of their relationship to each other. For much of the track the usual relationship of piano as lead and drums as support is inverted, with Ivanov’s expressionistic playing frequently taking a salient position. Conversely, the piano often plays the role of a second drum, as Shubin’s attack, particularly in the upper register, emphasizes a kinship to the drums and serves to recall and recover the piano’s status as a member of the percussion family. Ivanov’s occasional electronic interventions serve to underscore the essentially timbral nature of the piece, which nevertheless comes to a close with the relative tranquility of drifting piano chords.

Daniel Barbiero