Jean-Michel Blais

Recommendations #2 by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Sin título-1.jpg

Ranging from both technical and intricate to highly emotional, our second recommendations article showcases three different artists who recently released works that we here at Piano & Coffee found to be especially noteworthy.

Éna Brennan is the multi-instrumentalist and composer who, through her recent solo-project Dowry, just released her debut single In É – an intensely emotional track with intricate movement and intriguing switches between major and minor. Brennan is highly educated in several forms of music and art, and has been collaborating with an array of different performers, something that shows in the professionalism of her songwriting – even her improvised beginnings have a clear structure to them, showing how Brennan puts thought into every part of the process. 

Brennan’s music is a beautiful mix of Irish traditional and minimalist contemporary music, and In É is an absolutely glorious track – a long, downward hill, picking up pace in what seems like an infinity, building into a whirlwind of sound and intrigue. We can only agree with what others have already noted – Éna Brennan is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Back in the beginning of December, Behind Clouds released a two-track EP called Lost In the Layers of Clouds. The title track is dreamily divine – an ode to the soft, the smooth and the kind. Sorrow lingers just beneath the surface, not hiding… but nesting. The gentle piano plays around without stress, finding new paths and rhythms. From the Ones Looking Down at Me from Above is a heavier track, yet still so soft, with gentle fluttering and repetitive melody. A new layer is added with the chugging percussion, making it an immensely pleasant background track with its mild but unwavering ambience.

We follow the theme of sorrow with our last recommendation being a funeral piece by the Canadian pianist and composer Jean-Michel Blais, released in the beginning of February. His friend’s mother passed away recently, and in that tragedy, life was brought to the hauntingly beautiful Roses. Following Blais’ previous works, the track expands through several different genres and sensations, portraying perfectly the intricacy of human life. The track opens with an immediate sense of sorrow, hesitantly progressing – grand in its minimalism. Ever moving, we are introduced to a delicate melody, tinged with hope even in the hopeless – the track moves, both without and within me, on such a poignant level.

Terrifyingly real, Roses hides a life story in its movements, as chapter after chapter unfolds, revealing new sounds and new sides; subtle strings turn dramatic in one corner of the piece, and then the track settles softly on a gentle ending coming too fast, too soon. Blais manages to pour the entirety of a life into a single piece, leaving me breathless and frankly petrified – yet hopeful to the fact that we can still find so much beauty in even the most tragic of events.