Federico Albanese – ‘By the Deep Sea’

I discovered Federico Albanese when he released The Blue Hour in 2016. This was a winter i remember because of the music i played religiously during that period. AWVFTS Atomos, Ocoeur Reversed and both Jon Hopkins and Nils Frahms Late Night Tales mixes soundtracked those winter months along with The Blue Hour. The title track blew me away with its gorgeous piano melody. It also coincided with my short lived obsession with photographing the blue hour. This was an early in the year release, if i remember correctly, making the blue hour photography not to onerous a task. I digress.

Federico Albanese is a modern classical composer born in Milan, now residing in Germany. An early student of the piano and clarinet, he most definitely has a sound of his own. When I first heard this album it was unmistakably him. Only 3 albums in, and in a musical genre that is heavily populated, it is a skill to be so recognisable.

Albanese’s work is very musical. Albums in the modern classical genre can lack depth or are a little sterile. Throughout By the Deep Sea Albanese focuses on the piano for emotion and for that we are thankful. I’ve read somewhere that this is his best work. That may well be the case but it is also a smooth transition from The Blue Hour albeit, if possible, more atmospheric. From the opening track ‘682 Steps’ it felt familiar, yet different. With the filmscore-eque feel to it, this is a brooding piece supported by waves on a beach (or heavy rain) and is a welcoming opener. The track is apparently inspired by a path that runs from his mother’s house to a rock by the sea. It is a place he is also imagined Lord Byron writing his poem ‘The Sea’. The next 2 tracks Where We Were andYour Lunar Way are both similar in feel to the Blue Hour title track and are my personal highlights. Both melodic and upbeat yet sombre, a rare combination.

The remainder of the album is a thing of beauty. Piano work that wouldn’t be out of place in a love story epic from yesteryear alongside more melancholic moments. He moves between the calming and the ever so slightly less calming using the aforementioned piano along with other keyboards, a range of guitars and the obligatory field recordings (remember the waves or rain from earlier?) making it even more personal. This is a well considered and well balanced album, Another great album to start 2018, a joy.

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