Ulises Conti – Los Paseantes

Well, apart from having one of the most beautiful websites which you can view here, Ulises Conti’s music is simply refreshing and beautiful.  The record I am currently listening to ‘Los Paseantes’ dates from 2007, but as I’ve said before; on this blog the year of release is irrelevant and secondary in importance to the sharing of wonderful music.

Argentinean in origin, when he plays, Ulises Conti makes the piano come to life.  He really does.  He makes it sing more than most modern composers that I listen to.  I love that.  When you can really tell that an artist is one with an instrument.  It takes years to be this good at an instrument let alone as a composer and multi instrumentalist like Conti.  And there is something genuinely intriguing about this record.  I think this is mainly due to the diverse range of styles that are incorporated throughout.  It’s a pretty mixed bag, never settling down to one style.  Never accepting one genre as the centre piece.  It’s a bit of a chameleon to be honest.  It changes colour so regularly and with it, somehow, I noticed my mood changing in time to the music.

It starts in almost out and out true classical fashion; repetitive strings surge forward before a lilting piano line enters and the hypnotic impact is complete.  A modern symphony in the making.  Suddenly though, the tone becomes heavily influenced by jazz as trumpets enter the fray to create an almost lounge feel, before it’s brought sharply back into classical focus by another brilliant string composition.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Conti appears to enjoy using the full palette of instruments found in an orchestra, flute and clarinet combining beautifully to create melody over yet more hypnotic strings.  Suddenly though, these instruments disperse leaving a solitary piano to sing it’s solem song. 

At times the record is exceptionally minimalist too, echoing contemporaries like Rafael Anton Irrisari or Library Tapes, possibly even referencing the work of Danny Norbury, as the piano almost drops out totally simply sprinkling the music with fragments, rather than leading the songs.  Then suddenly piano and strings burst forward together, driving the record towards a climax.  Or so it would seem, until without warning the music changes pace again yet again and the strings and fragmented piano return.  Closing the album, Conti turns to the glockenspiel and xylophone, creating a lovely soundscape, which is both unexpected and appreciated at the end of such an assured piece of classical composition.  The sudden appearance of a voice repeating “shhh” brings this wonderful record to a perfect close.

Sure, this record may be old(ish), but it’s well worth checking out.  I will certainly be keeping tabs on Ulises Conti’s music in the future.  Have a listen yourself here.  Enjoy.

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