V/A ~ Summer Single Series

Summer is drawing to a close.  We can feel it in the air, and see it in the forecast as temperatures continue to drop and the sun sets earlier each day.  Australia, we’re jealous.  Over the course of the summer, Moderna Records has been releasing a quiet series of piano reflections, which are now collected as an album.  Ironically, the wistful nature of these pieces makes them suitable for this time of transition, perhaps even more so than their time of original release.  Even the title of the opening track, “Lonely Children,” and the artist’s name ~ Eik Octobre ~ sing of autumn.  Our children are indeed lonely right now, missing their friends, learning remotely, dreaming (already!) of next summer, of open shores, starfish and sandcastles.  While we’re obviously projecting such feelings on the song, the mood fits.

Peter Broderick‘s “Earnest Leslye” is even more ambient in nature, a soft rush of pads like a bed of leaves awaiting the miked piano.  As the artist’s latest album is vocal-based, it’s a quiet relief to hear him at the ivories again.  Jacob David‘s “By the Swings” is similarly intimate, its title evoking the joys of childhood as well as the perspective of parents, who are more likely to be by the swings that on them.  The track takes on a bittersweet tinge in light of lockdowns, as many swing sets were roped off for months, tantalizingly just out of reach.  And one may project all manner of interpretation on a title such as “People,” but Oliver Patrice Weder seems pleasantly disposed to the species, inviting strings to swirl around the increasingly active ivories ~ and even covering for one slightly-off note that recurs like the intrusion of current events.

Akira Kosemura‘s “Mirrors Crossing” is the set’s shortest piece.  At two minutes even, the length is a reminder of the fleeting nature of time, especially when it comes to the passing of seasons.  The piece starts and stops like good weather: here today, gone tomorrow, here again the next.  Before we know it, we’re at “Okno,” which is either an abbreviation for “Ok, no,” a Russian space station, an opening in a building or a computer window.  Julia Gjertsen offers no explanation, so we’re going to make up our own: “Okno” is about students sitting at their laptops, frustrated by online learning, saying, “Ok, no,” and looking through an open window when they catch a glimpse of something shiny passing by: the Russian space station!  Suddenly their spirits are refreshed (so maybe we shouldn’t tell them they are under surveillance!).  We take our joy where we may.

Pêtr Aleksänder contributes “Triptych 1 | For Piano,” speeding things up, reflecting the acceleration that seems to hit summer in its final days.  In contrast, Hideyuki Hashimoto‘s “Es” offers a slower comedown, looking back on all that has happened in the last season and finding room for gratitude.  The set closes with Tobias Svensson‘s “Aerials,” setting the stage for fall with a sense of acceptance and bright electronics that look forward rather than back.  The new season will have its own joys, its own blessings.  We need not fear the onset of autumn; new treasures await.  (Richard Allen)

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