Bruno Sanfilippo: Inside Life
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Like Bruno Sanfilippo's work in general, Inside Life straddles multiple genres. With minimalist piano playing the nucleus, the album's seven settings are heavily informed by his classical training, but they also evidence a deep connection to electroacoustic, electronica, and ambient genres. At no time do they appear separately, however; instead, Sanfilippo deftly fuses them in such a way that elements of each are omnipresent within a given production and a delicate balance emerges between them.

Sanfilippo's is a subtle and oft-tranquil world earmarked by the subtlest of painterly brush strokes, and the latest collection, which he recorded in Barcelona during 2013 and 2014, reaffirms his status as a modern-day impressionist. Though the forty-five-minute recording (issued in a 500-copy run) is largely a solo affair (Sanfilippo's credited with piano, electronics, voice, and, on the title piece, violin), the material is enhanced dramatically by the contributions of cellist Julián Kancepolski and, on the Saint-Saëns tribute “Camille,” singer Mariel Aguilar.

Kancepolski proves to be an invaluable part of the album equation, given how indelibly his playing leaves its mark on the material; his expressive, swooping lines are as central to the evocative impact of “Sudden Quietness” and “Freezing Point” as the composer's nuanced piano and electronic textures. The more luscious side of Sanfilippo's soundworld is highlighted within “A Door Opens Forever,” where his and Kancepolski's playing assumes a particularly forceful emotional weight. That said, the most exquisite setting on Inside Life would have to be “Tea Leaves at the Bottom of a Cup,” which reaches an almost sublime level of beauty during its serenading seven minutes.

There are times when Sanfilippo's playing calls Harold Budd's to mind, in those moments especially when the piano glimmers softly as if wrapped in a reverberant haze (such as during the ambient-drone meditation “The Place Where Dying Crows”). But though that might be the case, Sanfilippo's music nevertheless stakes out its own distinctive place within the musical firmament.

April 2015