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Album Review: Fingerprints
Mbandi
Cover image of the album Fingerprints by Mbandi
Fingerprints
Mbandi
2001 / MbandiMusic
53 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Mbandi’s debut album, Fingerprints is a promising start from a young pianist breaking into the contemporary instrumental music scene. Having spent his formative years in West Africa, I expected some exotic rhythms and unusual musical sounds, but there is really not much in the music to indicate that Mbandi grew up in a culture any different from the US. Not that there is anything wrong with that - I was just surprised. The music on Fingerprints was created to allow the listener’s mind to “go to a place of perfect peace and tranquility.” The melodies are very soothing and relaxing, but most are played at about the same tempo and in the same range on the keyboard. I would love to hear some of these pieces played on an acoustic piano. The keyboard used sounds rather two-dimensional, and the use of synth strings doesn’t do much to enhance the music (those who have read a lot of my reviews know that “canned” strings are a pet peeve of mine!). Several of the thirteen songs have a rhythm track, as well as a few other instrumental sounds. My main objection is the “flat” sound of the “piano.” Primarily self-taught, Mbandi has a nice touch and a good feel for melody, but his left-hand has the tell-tale sameness from one piece to the next that many self-taught pianists have - arpeggiated chords and not much else. Some of the tracks show real potential. “Les Antilles” is a bouncy, happy-go-lucky piece with a strong rhythm and a great big grin. This is the kind of music I expected on the album, and it has a more distinctive artistic voice than some of the other tunes. The other piece I really like is “Hero.” Inspired by the events of 9/11/00, this is also an upbeat piece that is obviously celebrating the lives of the heroes of that tragedy. “African Skies” is also lovely, and really doesn’t need the background strings. The melody is bittersweet and a little nostalgic, and the playing is emotionally clear. A few more pieces like these three, and we’ll have a winner! Fingerprints is available from mbandimusic.com.
April 4, 2001
This review has been tagged as:
Debut Albums
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