2012’s Autumn Stories made our Top Ten Modern Composition list, and since then, pianist Fabrizio Paterlini has gotten better. That album possessed a sparse beauty; this one bursts with an array of colors. Paterlini has taken some chances on Now, adding more strings and percussion and even some electronics. This is a bold move, but it’s the right time to do it. The field has developed a large gap since artists such as Peter Broderick and ‘Olafur Arnalds have chosen to nudge toward vocal arrangements; there’s nothing wrong with this choice, but we prefer the instrumental. As long as new artists pick up the banner, we’ll be able to relax.
While Paterlini’s performance remains gentle, his newest album seems to be graced with a greater confidence. We can still hear the pull-back of the muted hammers, an intimacy that draws attention to the humanity behind the release. Ironically, the keys have undergone a process of “effecting and editing”, although the seams are undetectable. The ivories seem to be struck less hesitantly, perhaps the result of an increased confidence. Paterlini has described this as his “snow” album, a possible hint that spring and summer albums will follow. The interior art portrays a winter scene, but the presence of a swimming pool and a swing indicate that the melt is near. After all, “now” is part of “snow”.
Now contains many moments of pure piano, and even when Paterlini is accompanied by friends, he’s still the firm anchor. The tenderest pieces, “Silent Eyes” in particular, act as nocturnes. On this track and “Iceland”, the strings serve primarily as an enhancement, content to remain in a supportive role. Perhaps they are so patient because the artist has been so generous with the spotlight. On “After the rain there will always be the sun”, he plays a simple melody that yields to an upfront cello motif. A great humility is present as the piano is not the loudest instrument in the house, nor in this piece the main character. The surprising “Not from the past, nor for the future” takes it one step further. The string line tackles a “Lacrimosa”-like melody, while the drums erupt in only the second minute. A sudden sense of immediacy envelopes the recording, honoring the title. On “My Perfect Time” and “Harmattan”, the string quartet is particularly effective, although the best is saved for the emotional finale, titled – ahem – “Finale”. Strangely yet pleasantly, those who purchase the hard copy will find that the finale is not the finale, but is followed by two bonus tracks, a present to old school listeners.
“I really hope you will enjoy the direction I took with this release”, writes Paterlini on his Bandcamp page. We do. We like the fuller sound, and we appreciate the choice to stay instrumental in a world that needs more quality music in this vein. (Richard Allen)