By Amanda Nordqvist
Inspired by one of the sentiments explored in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, the British composer Ben Laver has embarked on a journey marked by three instrumental EP’s culminating in a full-length album in August. “Sonder”, the realization that everyone has a story as complex and vivid as your own, encouraged Laver to further explore and elaborate on the complex and unique nature of humanity in his compositions, and back in February the first part of his multi-release saw the light – the Day One EP.
Emotional but fully in control, Keeper begins with beautiful waves of intensity, warm cello playing around soulfully with the nuances, and then gracefully stepping aside as the piano comes in. The instruments are like two languages blending together, complimenting each other incredibly well – Laver’s background in composing for picture media is apparent from the very start. Halfway through the piece, he adds a break with an entirely different feel to it, and for a moment everything tilts and spins, only to be gently brought back to everyday life, the softness of the main theme.
A whole new story, a whole new life, and universe it seems, is told in Liberosis – the quick, light footsteps bring me forward so suddenly and so lithely, I feel like I’m weightless. The creaking in the background takes me to some distant place, surrounded by trees; I am so safe and so alive and the light shines truly, not on me but through me. I know with all my being that I could run forever, cascading around this tiny bubble of light, piano-like glittering dust in the air all around me. However, this track, too, takes a serious turn halfway through, reminding us again of the intricacy of life, not to be forgotten even for a second.
The ending track is a thoughtful, gentle voice, so incredibly soft that I am convinced now that a piano can whisper, can make its own decisions – Laver’s compositions have lives of their own, and Sleep, with just a tinge of sadness beneath the calm, still surface, moves like someone wise beyond their years and almost unbearably heartfelt in its sincere love for every person listening. I, for one, couldn’t be happier that Laver found quite the source of inspiration in the word “sonder” as it allowed for such an evocative concept: a great reminder to be mindful of the many things we don’t know about each other – and truly, this first part of the release has left me rather impatient for more.