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Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq: Where is Pannonica?

Matt Marshall By

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At times while listening to pianists Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq's Where is Pannonica? you may find yourself asking, "where is the piano?" Which isn't to say that traditional piano tones are ever completely silenced on the record, but that they are rarely the only tones. On three tunes, Delbecq is cited as using Dlooper, an audio application that, according to the pianist, is "a multi-track looper that can superimpose eight stereo channels, and output them on eight different channels." But percussive clicks and knocks and rhythmic strumming—all derived from pianos—flush out many of the other pieces as well.

Milne and Delbecq waste no time exploring their instruments' sonic possibilities, kicking off the record with the co-authored "Portrait of Giorgio Thelos," a haunting ode that employs a cyclical plucking of bass piano strings and a rattling, egg-shaker-like backing percussion derived from parts unknown, though the 15-minute "making of" video on the CD does give viewers a hint by showing an array of whittled sticks, twined straw brushes, metal rivets and other makeshift tools with which the pianists sweep or poke into their instruments' strings. Atop these alternative sounds—or intermixed with them—tread the dreamy, clean tones from a meditative, melancholic or manic piano.

There is little indication who is playing what. As the two pianists write in the liner notes, "we find ourselves finishing each others' jokes, musical phrases, and conceptual suggestions." And in the video, Delbecq notes how "totally confusing" it often was during playback for the musicians themselves to figure out who had played which parts. As Delbecq is the wielder of the Dlooper, perhaps he is the percussive master here. But there's no way to be certain. And, considering the somewhat cryptic liner notes, the album's inquisitive title and the spatial, acoustically androgynous music itself, it seems the pair not only prefers to maintain mystery, but to foster it as well.

Visit Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq on the web.


Track Listing: Portrait of Giorgio Thelos; Task Sharing; Divide Comedy; Ice Storm; Le M

Personnel: Andy Milne: piano; Benoit Delbecq: piano.

Title: Where Is Pannonica? | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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