I remember a tutor at art school once broadly outlining that you work out what you want to say and then select the best way to say it. In a parallel dimension, The Mona Lisa may well have been a play, Star Wars best realised as a graphic novel and Sgt. Pepper’s as a show in an art gallery.
Choosing to work with a very narrow palette means that the work colours the world in a very particular way. For Michael Vincent Waller, that vehicle is clearly the piano. An instrument that carves its own place and space. The variety of notes all wrapped up in a beautifully framed attack and long thrilling decay to silence. Played slowly, it gently co-exists with pockets of emptiness and draws the space it’s sounds are created within. Moments gravitates towards slow plaintive patterns and a tugging undercurrent tinted with romance, drama and emotion.
The sound of solo piano for much of this album is stripped bare and it’s impossible to not be seduced. A deep sound that has the quality that grows out of an intoxicated timeless ambience. Drifting into the space between Erik Satie’s furniture music and Brian Eno’s events in dense fog. Moments walks the edge between minimalism and something more rococo with littered pools of beautiful silence around gentle embellishments. The piano, in Wallers hands paints an unashamedly beautiful human emotion.
Several pieces here, based on the title alone feel like tributes but walk that fine line into deeply personal moments, the listener is almost an intruder in the piano room. The opener For Papa is a wonderful glowing example of the beauty of strings vibrating in space.
For much of the album’s 56 minutes, a near stasis gently fractalizes in the air. Time that gives whatever you happen to be doing whilst listening as a gentle sharpening of the instant. Rain on the window, pigeons resting on the garden gate and the kettle boiling all become sound tracked scenes from a subtly melancholic, oddly uplifting film…
The spell that Waller casts is a fragile one, the second last track Vibrafono Studio exposes a huge shift, simply given a different gravity by the addition of vibraphone by William Winant.
Like the glorious spaciousness that still emits from Satie’s work, and the star here is the unadorned beauty of a piano simply being given time to breath. A collection of sounds that happily intermingle with your own moment into a rarefied autumnal ambience.
Moments is that album that makes feeling, more than thinking, the right response.
Moments is out 4th October on Unseen Worlds.