The Home Normal store recently started stocking Preservation releases. I've been a huge fan of the label for a while, a personal favourite over the past year being Pimmon's incredible Smudge Another Yesterday. The latest from this fabulous Australian label is by the pianist Sophie Hutchings, with her debut 'Becalmed'.
Now whilst many people will roll their eyes at yet another solo piano record in a kind of neo-classical vein (and there are a lot doing the rounds right now which may or may not be a bad thing), 'Becalmed' is about as beautiful as it gets. It takes a lot for me to be forced to sit down and listen to a whole album on first go these days, to be totally honest. But the sheer choice of direction, melody and beautiful weighted timing of the pieces left me in a sort of trance really. And whilst a lot of solo piano works, such as the excellent Nils Frahm for example, remind me of autumn or at least the change of seasons, this record is beyond that, beyond time and beyond this world in some ways.
'Becalmed' is an album that is both bursting with emotion, and yet restrained enough to not make said emotion sickly sweet or over the top. Its an incredibly measured and mature album (apparently the first track 'seventeen' tells the age of the artist when she recorded it!) Yes, some people will not find enough in it being a largely solo piano album in that neo-classical vein. And whilst there is a movement doing the rounds right now, this is quite a different record from those...a little less vain, a little less obvious, an album of genuine and unabashed beauty and delicate temperance. Superb and one of the highlights of the year for me so far.
You can hear Sophie's work here: http://www.myspace.com/goldenbooksmusic
For more on Preservation please go here: http://www.preservation.com.au/
You can buy 'Becalmed' from the Home Normal store here: Sophie Hutchings - Becalmed
There's also a great interview with Sophie by our friends at Fluid radio: http://www.fluid-radio.co.