Moody, Lynchian Instrumentals from Ludovico Einaudi
Italian pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi has a beautifully Lynchian new album, In a Time Lapse, just out and a North American tour in the works. The music is Lynchian in the sense that it builds a series of frequently apprehensive movements out of terse variations on a simple four-note theme, just as Angelo Badalamenti did with the Twin Peaks soundtrack. The shadow of Philip Glass also towers over this album; his 1995 suite In the Summer House springs to mind. And in its more brooding moments, Einaudi reminds of Erik Satie. Einaudi likes a lot of reverb on his piano, to the extent that he generously credits the recording engineer as part of the ensemble. Elegant, sometimes sweeping strings and surprisingly hard-hitting percussion are provided in places by Orchestra I Virtuosi Italiani .
After a pensive, balmy string introduction, Einaudi wastes no time going deep into the noir with the sweepingly orchestrated, creepily surreal, hypnotic central theme, setting a suspenseful tone that persist throughout the rest of the album. While the rest of the suite is seldom this dark, there’s a recurring disquiet throughout the series of hypnotic, artfully ornamented piano preludes. Einaudi plays gracefully and gently; he lets his ideas linger and build suspense, or resonate with a nocturnal, late-summer calm.
A moody hypnotically baroque-tinged waltz brings back the strings, building to a stormy insistence. Einaudi follows a pulsing, Glass-like circular piece with an increasingly haunting interlude, lush strings over a repetitive four-note piano riff. Spaciously airy piano variations give way to more Glass-like circularity and then build to a minimalistically pulsing variations over almost subsonic electronics. The unease rises as the variations move along, electronic loops and then strings carrying the recurrent underlying theme to a rather elegaic payoff at the end. Who is the audience for this? The Sequenza 21 crowd, obviously; fans of Badalamenti, Glass, film music, and the noir pantheon. It sounds best with the lights out.