Music Won't Save You
It is now common practice for the piano to provide the fulcrum that many experiments in neoclassical minimalism are built around: solo piano, interspersed with resonances and effects or “prepared” in different ways to make the most of the characteristics and timbres hidden inside.
All these ways of expanding the expressive range of the piano are explored at once by British composer James Batty, whose debut album is a kind of encyclopedic catalogue of the instrument’s potential, presented in a plethora of forms, some more manipulated and some less. The results of Batty applying different playing, filtering and recording techniques are consolidated in the eleven tracks of Sanctuary (Overtones and Deviations), where, against sparse passages of bare harmonic essence, the piano is quite literally transfigured, almost losing its identity in the layers of resonance that make up the grainy, ghostly ambience.
The British artist’s approach, however, is not merely manipulative, since the dialogue he has crafted between piano, synths, guitar and violin corresponds to a kind of post-modern chamber music, which, in place of direct evocation prefers exploring the infinite sonic spaces inside and outside of the piano. An extremely interesting work.