Issued on her own Emika Records, Klavirni finds electronic music producer Emika (real name Ema Jolly) taking a bit of a left turn before shifting attention back to the production of her third full artist album release. In contrast to 2011's self-titled debut album and 2013's Dva (both on Ninja Tune), Klavirni is fundamentally a thirty-six-minute collection of intimate piano settings. The move doesn't come as a total surprise, however, given that she's a classically trained musician who studied piano and composition while growing up in Milton Keynes, England and who later earned a Music Technology degree in Bath. That Emika has an adventurous side was memorably shown when, after moving to Berlin in 2006 and working as a sound designer for Native Instruments, she became involved in production work for the Ostgut Ton compilation Fünf, which features music crafted from field recordings made inside the Berghain and Panoramabar clubs and collected by her (she also contributed the opening track, “Cooling Room,” to the release).
While visiting with her parents in Milton Keynes, Emika reacquainted herself with the piano that she had played since childhood and by her own admission is the most important instrument in her life. Such an instrument naturally exposes the player's personality in the most intimate sense possible; in Emika's own words, “It is only there, in that bubble with my parents, my cat and my old piano that I know so well, that I am able to make music like this.”
Though unadulterated piano playing is obviously the primary focal point, Emika does subtly augment some tracks with ambient-electronic textures. With its piano notes stretched into elongated slivers of warbling mutations, “Dilo9” is the most elaborately treated of the pieces, though it's hardly the only one Emika's transformed into a vaporous vista. At times, a ghostly residue sometimes bleeds off of the piano's notes, and layering also emerges in places. The home-styled recording character of the project is also evidenced by the ambient noises that sometimes creep into the recording.
Though she drew for inspiration from the simple piano music of Czech composer Leoš Janácek and the works of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, Klavirni feels ultimately like no one else's music than Emika's. Improvising freely and using a simple recording device, she laid down the thirteen pieces spontaneously, perhaps liberated to some degree by the absence of pressure associated with recording in a formal studio environment. Regardless of whether a given piece is brooding (“Dilo4”), melancholy (“Dilo7”), pensive (“Dilo12”), lilting (“Dilo14”), or stately (“Dilo8”), her elegant and oft-stark renderings are consistently marked by sincerity.