One says, “Hey, you got your drone in my classical music!” The other responds, “You got your classical music in my drone!” They pause to sample the new concoction, and together exclaim, “Delicious!” (To understand the reference, click here.)
It’s one thing for a pianist to incorporate drone into a recording. It’s altogether riskier to open a recording with a piano-free drone piece. Such is the courage of Italy’s Luca Longobardi, whose P.eople. EP was first hinted at in Gianmarco Del Re’s Postcards from Italy interview at Fluid Radio. Electronics have always played an important part in Longobardi’s compositions, but this opening selection makes a statement: the artist is confident in at least two fields. The following five tracks are each inspired by different people, thus the title. They range from fans to strangers to Gianmarco himself (the sprightly “White #151”, defined by its b.p.m.). Longobardi then closes the set with another electronic piece, this one more ambient in tone. By placing the piano pieces in the middle of the recording, he imitates the process of performance: at the beginning and end of a set, the ivories are covered and inaccessible.
Beethoven was defined by four notes at the beginning of a composition, as thoroughly explored by Matthew Guerrieri in his recent work, The First Four Notes. Longobardi, at least for now, may be defined by four notes at the end of a composition. These notes, playful yet triumphant, occur at the end of “Black #12”. The preceding minutes have been so tender and thoughtful that the brief burst comes as a surprise. A composer without a fun streak is no fun to listen to, and these two seconds transform one’s entire view. Cleverly positioned at the album’s center, this track is Longobardi’s personal signature, a wink to the audience, a glimpse of the person behind the performance.
The titles hint at multiple themes: the opener and closer are named after longitude and latitude, the even-numbered tracks after what appear to be Pantone shades (“White #151”, “Black #12”, “Grey #79”). Tracks 2 and 6 are related by tempo, if not entirely by timbre, demonstrating an intentional sense of balance; the former is sprinkled with glitch, the latter with electronic strings. For the note-to-note comparison, compare 0:18 – 1:09 of “White #151” to 0:00-0:24 of “Grey #719”, and gauge how the orchestral sounds of the latter mirror the left hand chords of the former.
Longobardi’s three prior albums, as well as this EP, have all been self-released. It’s time for a major label to literally take note. (Richard Allen)