Lorenzo Masotto: Aeolian Processes

To say that a modicum of information accompanies Lorenzo Masotto's latest collection is unquestionably an understatement: though a sleeve detail clarifies that the album's music was written and performed by the Italian composer and pianist (b. 1979), no information about the instrumentation involved is provided, the move perhaps reflecting Masotto's desire that the music speak for itself without listeners getting sidetracked by production details. Regardless, this eleven-track follow-up to 2016's Rule and Case (Preserved Sound) presents a thoroughly satisfying collection of melodic, piano-centered pieces. Generally speaking, Masotto's neo-classical settings are elegant in style, melancholy, wistful, and nostalgic in mood, and more often than not slow in tempo.

His gifts as a composer and pianist—he's been playing since the age of nine and is a graduate of the Conservatorio di Verona—are evident from the moment “Arctic Summer” inaugurates the set until “Desert” ends it forty-seven minutes later. Augmenting his refined piano playing with synthesizers, Masotto shows himself repeatedly to be a composer of no small distinction; in fact, the writing impresses so much, Aeolian Processes would be as effective had it been produced as a solo piano recording. While the beautiful lilt that drives “Drone,” for example, isn't compromised by the inclusion of an energized, cymbals-accented percussive backing, the piece would be just as effective in a solo piano arrangement.

Yet while Aeolian Processes would succeed perfectly well as a solo piano recording, there are also moments where the material does benefit from the addition of non-piano sounds. To cite two examples, the softer keyboard patterns and synthesizer textures accompanying the delicate piano melodies in “My Great-Grandmother Lived in the Mountains” do help to amplify the material's dream-like character, and the evocative impact of “Geyser” is intensified when its arrangement includes an unusual synthesizer warble and whooshes.

That being said, the piano melodies in a piece such as “Traveling To Alaska” are so pretty, the presence of non-piano elements ultimately seems more like an intrusion than anything else; further to that, the delicacy of his touch on the keyboard (in “Desert,” for instance) is heard to best effect when other sounds aren't present to compete for the listener's attention. Put simply, Aeolian Processes repeatedly shows that Masotto's material is so melodically compelling, it requires nothing more than the barest of presentations to make its case.

May 2017