Francesco Tristano Francesco TristanoIdiosynkrasia
“Idiosynkrasia” perfectly summarises everything that Francesco Tristano explains when he is asked about his connection with music at a deep level, even underneath the skin: the piano is the instrument with which he can most honestly and creatively express himself, he tirelessly admires Bach without this being a contradiction to his interest in 20th century music (more interested in aesthetic aspects such as rhythm, melody, and harmony—practically abstract), the absolute freedom of jazz, the romantic breath of the first Detroit techno. As a professional pianist who travels around the world offering concerts in prestigious auditoriums for ladies with fur coats and old crocks in tuxedos, classical music is his work, what feeds him. But later there is youth, rebellion, and the opening of horizons that don’t restrict him exclusively to the academic arena or to sheet music by composers who are dead and buried. This is why since he started recording his own music with “Not For Piano” (Infiné, 2007), these other two alternative channels of expression have found their natural space. That first album rendered tribute to Detroit through covers, the translation of classics like “The Bells” (Jeff Mills) or “Strings of Life” (Rhythim Is Rhythim) to sheet music, and he came close to jazz in the fingering. He wasn’t trying to make a grand display—it was the simple, basic album of a fan in his room with an uncontrollable impulse to pay his debts to the masters of electronic music.
And then came “Auricle Bio On” (Infiné, 2008), and the jump was spectacular. Working in collaboration with Moritz Von Oswald, it was already a techno album without machines, and thousands of splinters of the sound of the piano reconstructed in digital surroundings; it was a puzzle of eighth notes with the impurities shined or polished, organised on the Ableton Live screen to create a post-digital sonata that was heir to the Basic Channel dynasty—that is to say, that house that is as deep as the deep blue sea, without the need to resort to the hoary old language of dub. Francesco squeezed the expressive possibilities of the piano to unknown extremes; it was as if he were playing it from a distance, as if it were the aura or ghost of a piano being heard there. And at times, with the entry of a solid beat, “Auricle Bio On” opened the door to club music. It was, in its own right, one of the most singular albums of that year, and still today; it is an album that could only be made by someone who is a virtuoso of music theory and who handles software with ease. Unfortunately, in the conservatories of Paris or New York, talents like this don’t often appear.
Now, “Idiosynkrasia” is like the sum of Tristano’s first two albums, plus the happiness of the single in between, “The Melody” (Infiné, 2008). It sounds neither as basic nor as graceful as the first, nor as technically complex as the second; he keeps the best of both to advance along a third route in which the piano and techno connect without any harmful friction. This time, the (luxury of an) assistant in recording the album was Carl Craig (who had already remixed “The Melody”). Francesco travelled to Detroit to make a place for himself in the Planet E studios, and to receive advice from the great magician in the step-by-step creation of these nine pieces. In no case is it a production, but rather a kind assistance—Tristano played the piano in the live band of Innerzone Orchestra, they are friends—consisting of lending machines, facilities, and ideas with all of the time in the world ahead of them, as much as necessary to make the album perfect, with a sound that lives up to the circumstances. And this remains: a piano album with grafts of noises and drums, which seesaws between concrete ornamentation and Detroit synergy. For example, “Mambo”: the piano sounds crystalline, repetitive, as if inspired by the minimalist school –although in reality it is a baroque fingering technique, like the continuous bass in the aria of a suite– and along the way its advance is interrupted by found sounds and crackling from strange sources, shadows in the path of the light.
Starting here, “Idiosynkrasia” advances along different routes. At times, it bares itself of interferences (the very simple “Lastdays” or “Nach Wasser Noch Erde”, a circular composition, like a dance track, without variations, in which a digital pulse comes in only with the final sigh), and at times it ventures into the forest of jazz (free and colourful in the case of “Eastern Market” or “Single and Dopppio”, more techno in “Wilson”), although where it reaches its greatest heights is when the high-end gives way directly to techno and concise drums; there is where ambiental pads underline romantic melodies: “Idiosynkrasia”, “Fragance de Fraga” –a shock, also an extension of “Auricle Bio On”– and the final “Hello Inner Space Dub”, the most cosmic segment of the whole album. It is also the confirmation that Francesco Tristano is effectively one of the truly idiosyncratic creators of the moment, a man with a unique language, the fruit of a mixture of innate genius and divergent tastes; his vision of techno is what would have arisen if in the 19th century, the echo chamber had coexisted with the grand piano—and with sufficient skill to extract art and extremely delicate emotion where others would have only created a ridiculous pastiche.
Francesco Tristano - Idiosynkrasia