Coming from the Classical world, Ludovico Einaudi’s immense popularity (Massive Youtube hits, sold out concerts, and the Order Of Merit of the Italian Republic) makes him a bit of a critical target but, take out all expectations and just listen to the music, and you will be transported to a beautiful dreamy world of melancholy melodies, spacious soundscapes set amid waves of dramatic undercurrents.
There is a potent simplicity to his playing that, much like Satie and even George Winston, serves purely to evoke, letting the space between the notes do much of the talking.
The title track is so gentle at times that the notes almost disappear, but then it gradually builds to a slow, graceful climax, carrying you away on a watery bed of tinkling piano lines.
Einaudi has been involved in the creating of a number of film scores in recent years and this aspect of his writing is conspicuous on these pieces in the thoughtful choice of instrumentation - a glockenspiel here, bubbling synth there – which is clearly designed to promote and enhance the Mood with a capital M.
Impeccably arranged and performed, this is beautiful music that will relax, massage and transport, creating whatever images your mind allows.
The one exception which stands up and remind you that the world is not always a perfect place is the cobwebby, unsettling Newton’s Cradle, whose tense tonal structure and bubbling synthesiser wobble, build to a jagged hostile peak that leaves you unwittingly looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re still alone. Powerful stuff.
After this brief excursion into dangerous territory, things settle back down again for the home run as the beautiful Waterways envelops you in its soothing wash and closes with the sumptuous Burning.
What a beautiful album this is.
Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.