- Nathan Yoder
Recommended Listening: Didacte - Revenir; Adrien Casalis - Ghost; Leon den Engelsen - Growth
Piano and Coffee Records is really getting at it this spring. The Valencia-based, contemporary classical label founded by Sergio Diaz De Rojas just released Justina Jaruseviciute's extraordinary debut a few weeks ago to much critical acclaim. Opting to keep their foot on the gas rather than sit back for a beat, the label then announced three EPs scheduled to come out across a month. These shorter listens each feature a different electronic artist who has decided to revisit their pianistic roots. The musicians, then, are connected by their minimalistic approaches, though their individual expressions vary. We here at DC were planning to spotlight only Didacte's EP, but when we heard the other two last week, we couldn't resist detailing all three in a single post. Read about each of them and hear some sample audio below.
The title track which opens Didacte's EP is one of the great solo piano compositions of 2021. It hooked us immediately, reminding us a bit of hakura nakamura's 2020 work. Maybe we just have a thing for soft piano constructions. Two tracks later, we arrive at L'Apres - another stunner, but with a different feel. Didacte's electronic sensibilities are present here, as the artist adds flourishes to an already beautiful melody. Revenir follows a cycle, however, ebbing back into Maoe, another delicate, spare piece. Didacte uses the words "raw" and "honest" and "direct" to describe his EP, and we couldn't agree more. The artist's intent is for the listener to revisit base emotions by filtering through layers of rigidities accumulated over time. It's a tough ask across 17 minutes, but if any music can help facilitate this meditation, Revenir might be it.
Adrien Casalis' Ghost EP explores a much more melancholic concept, as he traces a love story between a living being and someone who has passed. Casalis' pieces are just as beautiful as Didacte's, but slightly more cinematic. Additional instrumentation and varied textures are perhaps necessary here, as the artist attempts to capture specific atmospheres through sound. Casalis perfectly illustrates that when storytelling, setting can be just as important as plot. Instead of highlighting specific tracks, our recommendation is to listen to the EP straight though, unbroken, as this approach allows you to imagine Casalis' dramatic tale from start to finish.
If Ghost strikes a chill, let Leon den Engelsen's Growth EP warm you right back up. The Sweden-based composer has studied across the world from New Orleans to Rotterdam, but on his new EP, he returns to images from his childhood: his mother playing piano at home, and then his own early lessons. Like other artists who explore nostalgia, most of Engelson's music feels soft around the edges, like a happy memory revisited in mind, or a washed-out Polaroid taped to a dresser mirror. But the opening track, titled Closure, is an outlier of sorts. In it, sparkling arpeggios actually sharpen this faded resolution. By the time Descendants rolls through embellished with field recordings, followed by Awakenings which features audible key and pedal touches, we've fallen back into a dream. But the EP closes as it begins, with synth textures which carry us forward, arriving back in the present.
Didacte's EP has already been released and is ready for streaming + purchase on Piano and Coffee's Bandcamp page, linked here. On that same page, you will also find Adrien Casalis' and Leon den Engelsen's EPs available for preorder. Those two will be coming out on April 30th and May 7th, respectively. Give the label a follow, too, as Sergio is sure to get up to a lot more in the coming months.