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Quentin Tolimieri: Monochromes


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Quentin Tolimieri: Monochromes
Ever since its first release, Blurred Music, in July 2018, the Elsewhere label has never been reluctant to release multi-disc albums when the music has merited them. Of the label's twenty-one albums to date, three have been double albums, and two triple albums—that first release and this one, Monochromes. Another characteristic of Elsewhere releases has been the preponderance of albums featuring piano. Although the label's seventh, eighth and ninth releases were collectively labelled "Elsewhere Piano Series No. 1," to date there has been no sign of Series No. 2; nonetheless, the label has since released enough first-rate piano albums (by such fine musicians as Melaine Dalibert, Jürg Frey, Shira Legmann, Anastassis Philippakopoulos, Reinier van Houdt, Dante Boon ...) for several more series, with Monochromes being one.

This album comprises fifteen tracks, composed by Quentin Tolimieri between 2017 and 2021, played by him on piano. Berlin-based Tolimieri, who is making his first appearance on Elsewhere, has a relatively small discography, with two of his past releases being reassuringly titled Piano (pfMentum, 2016) and Prepared Piano (Creative Sources, 2017.) The Monochromes tracks were recorded at various sessions in USA, Germany and France between March 2018 and December 2021; they vary in duration from five-and-a-half to thirty-five minutes, a total of three hours and ten minutes, so making Monochromes longer than the entire Piano Series No. 1.

The most striking feature of the fifteen pieces here is their variety and occasional novelty. Although the pieces are all entitled "Monochrome" plus a number, that should not be taken to mean they are parts of a larger work; instead, each of them stands alone. So, "Monochrome 1" is a slow-paced, delicately melodic piece which progresses logically, In total contrast, on "Monochrome 2" Tolimieri fires off a barrage of high notes at such speed that there is precious little time to appreciate the nuances of the music. Similarly, on the album's longest track, the thirty-five-minute "Monochrome 8," he continuously plays a limited selection of lower notes with occasional subtle changes, thus building a soundscape which is part drone, part wall of sound, but compelling from start to finish.

Tolimieri has opined, "It always felt to me that the piano was a bit limited by a kind of music history embedded in its construction: equal temperament, a particular kind of tone quality, etc., even the way the keys are laid out is not from any kind of acoustic necessity but is, rather, a representation of European harmony." With Monochromes it seems as if Tolimieri is not giving his opinion of the piano but has taken action to break away from its limits; the end results are a considerable distance away from the vast majority of solo piano music. As with any innovation (or revolution), it may take some years for the effects of this album to be fully appreciated. In the meantime, it seems certain to provide much long-term pleasure.

Track Listing

Monochrome 1; Monochrome 2; Monochrome 3; Monochrome 4; Monochrome 5; Monochrome 6; Monochrome 7; Monochrome 8; Monochrome 9; Monochrome 10; Monochrome 11; Monochrome 12; Monochrome 13; Monochrome 14; Monochrome 15.


Quentin Tolimieri: piano.

Album information

Title: Monochromes | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Elsewhere

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