By Amanda Nordqvist
Using her experience in composing music for dance, theatre and audiovisuals, Barcelona-based pianist Marta Cascales Alimbau recently released her debut EP Light-house, after gaining inspiration from her stay on board of an old houseboat in California. A mix of both new and renewed tracks, the EP holds six pieces for piano, violin and cello, beautifully influenced by Bach, Debussy and Arvo Pärt, alongside the natural sounds and senses from the environment in which she actualized her EP.
Light-house begins with Pärt, a Spartan track, with violin and cello like two voices in a conversation, and there is something so engaging about the minimalism of airy strings, two bodies in a dance, singing in a language you’re not sure when you learned. Soon after comes House, instilling instant nostalgia, as I find myself looking out the window of a moving train, melancholy keeping the outside world firmly away – I hear and feel nothing but the gentle tugging of the beautiful track, the dancing melody telling of things I’ve done and things I’ve yet to do. The warmth of the tender piano is like two hands holding mine, reassuring me that things will work out.
We waltz into madness as Pleut takes the lead – eerie, unkempt melodies that suddenly burst into bouts of clarity, only to be overtaken by the darkness creeping ever closer. Then follows the magnificent Tide, with whispering waves rolling in the background, as strings lend an unyielding elegance to the sound while gorgeously waving from sober lightness to dread and sorrow. With such a humble mix of paces and emotion, and Marta expertly braiding the transitions together, this track, on its own, seems like a whole life story compressed into five minutes of blissful immersion.
A whole new side to the pianist is introduced as the intrigue of Bachiana entails, with variations of the same melody and subtle nuances in the hints of eastern themes. The EP ends on a softer note, with the unpredictable Arvo, its grand, slow melody like something rising out of the ocean. This track rings with the sense of a slow improvisation, every note feels like hanging off a ledge, not sure where it’s taking us next. Like the unheard musings of some quiet prodigy, Arvo is a lonely voice telling of phenomenal things to the endless sea, and a beautiful ending to this stunning EP that takes me right to that old houseboat by the San Francisco Bay.