Such is the both national and cultural relevance of Piedmontese composer Ludovico Einaudi that in May 2005, he was awarded the Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana – that most noteworthy of knighthoods in his native Italy. And if Signor. Paolo Conte is often considered la risposta italiana to our beloved Sir. Reginald Kenneth Dwight, then Einaudi is their Elgar – commensurately prolific, and endowed with not an iota less class. This year celebrating his Silver Jubilee since becoming discographically active as it were, In a Time Lapse commemorates the poise and guile of his every, and indeed now uncountable previous, whilst simultaneously illustrating an adoption of modern techniques and with that, that most adroit of adaptions to the contemporary. Einaudi is that quite remarkable creature: a distinct product of the past, yet one which continues to produce compositions to be unreservedly savoured in the present whilst recalled long into the future.
Of course having teamed up with the two brothers at the nucleus of Berlin IDM outfit To Rococo Rot on his 2009 endeavour, the Whitetree Project Einaudi has already elucidated this exemplary ability of his in conjoining the shushed ruffles of a more conventional classical schooling, with those more progressive idiosyncrasies of electronically-affected musics. Though that which may be comprehensively debated is whether the pianist has ever before employed this symbiosis to such a poignant extent as he here does, and I’d contend that perhaps he in fact hasn’t quite…
Now it ought to be affirmed that although his latest collection contains little, to no synthetic intervention it is instead the techniques, and time signatures, and general attitudes of the later day to which I sporadically refer. Though quite unmistakably, In a Time Lapse is a work erring on the side of some rather traditional timbres: the insistent final cadences of the majestic five minute thirty grandiosity intrinsic to Run, or the wintry sonata that is Walk are undoubtedly indebted to past masters, as opposed to, say, the hoodlums of Germanic electronica. The rolling ebonies of Two Trees, too, reek of the natural world far more than they may of Apparat, for instance. They coil and unravel graceful as furling leaves sprung open by the first signs of spring; soft and deft as a sward of snowdrops hanging their heads in chorus for one final wintertime.
Even when Einaudi does in fact elect to cross-pollinate the disparate seeds of the classical with this more conventionally contemporary approach outlined above, the overall effect is transparently orchestral, and so too is it truly outstanding. Experience feeds off the agitation of seesawing strings, set to shrill by lolloping rhythms and almost Reichian repetition; Life unwinds around the xylophonic plinks of Ennio Morricone’s The Musical Pocket Watch, which in turn spin the cogs and hammer the pianistic hues. There is here once more an estival lucidity, which again plays into the appositely cyclical nature of the LP – one which itself encapsulates the slow, yet robustly sure evolution illustrated in any which botanical time lapse. Though in this instance, the impact only strengthens with each completed revolution as the album becomes increasingly rewarding with time: Discovery At Night may initially sound uneventful and ambling, though with repeated exposure its slight textures and gently sombre refrains cloak themselves in a thick fug of solemnity evocative as a stately oak’s auburn coat of autumn. Its cinematic denouement too, Burning, may seem an unsuspecting indie on first listen though with recurrence, it blooms into a work of expansive silver screen vim – if one tinged with the oeuvre’s inevitable, and above all now impending end.
Though it’s Time Lapse which attracts immediately, and sticks around indefinitely: as cutoff synths whoosh and zoom beneath Einaudi’s melancholy tinkering, and sharp guitars slither about staccato pangs of violin it steadily builds as one of Trent Reznor’s foggy Ghosts arrangements might. Light, though looming it’s the elder statesman taking slight tricks from that more modish of ambient magicians to himself conjure a preternatural record acutely befitting both the past and the present – one to spin ’til the day the whole world goes away.
Released: January 21st, 2013 [Decca Records]