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David Friend & Jerome Begin
Post- Vanessa Ague , April 20th, 2022 08:25

New Yorkers David Friend and Jerome Begin finds new ways of approaching the solo piano album

On Post-, piano moves in ripples, melding booming echoes with lush melodies. The album, which is a collaboration between composer-pianist Jerome Begin and pianist David Friend, is made of sound that easily moves from the peaceful to the stormy. There’s a captivating blur of electronics and acoustics that collide and diverge throughout the album, which ricochets between the gentle and the harsh on a search for what might live in-between.

Both Friend and Begin are New York-based artists whose works often explore and bend the invisible, yet present, boundaries between genres, types of sound and styles. When they started working on Post-, they wanted to make a solo piano record that explores new timbral and textural possibilities for the piano by layering different types of sound. Instead of presenting music that neatly fits into the box of “solo piano” – music that often values the auteur and set structures – they hoped to imagine new ways of playing the instrument, primarily through electronics.

These overlapping sonic palettes drive Post-’s undulating motion. ‘Rolling’, for example, features a wavy pattern that moves through the pleasant and the pointed until it reaches a starry-eyed, haunted section of quiet, delicate sound. ‘Quick’ is equally compelling but presents a different angle. The track layers ascending, rolled patterns that jolt and fade, and eventually its layers become so entangled the music feels chaotic. In these two pieces, Friend and Begin emphasise two different ways of playing with their tools: One, to form a contemplative state, the other to form a complex lattice.

Beyond creating these intricate melodic layers, Friend and Begin’s ability to effortlessly jump between different dynamics heightens the album’s impact. In these moments, they’re able to bring extremes into the same space and find a way to make them work together. The album’s most gripping track, ‘Gated memories’, uses these drastic dynamic changes powerfully. It opens with a soft, introspective sound made of the album’s signature rolling chords. Some are made of the piano’s usual tone, while others simmer with a sparkly, electronic swirl; these layers start and stop, bursting and disappearing until they grow to an even fuller sound that feels all-consuming. 

Through these dramatic shifts, the duo’s vision feels its most enthralling. In the juxtaposition of extremes, the in-between that Begin and Friend hope to find becomes even more apparent. Once the chaos of explosive pulsation has met and mixed with delicate meditation, what we’re left with is resolution found by considering a little bit of each end of the spectrum.