2021 / David Wahler
Review by Kathy Parsons
Currents is a collection of seventeen original “miniatures for piano” by award-winning composer/pianist/keyboardist, David Wahler. Created in his Northern California mountain studio during a “lockdown” period of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wahler explores the emotions of isolation with this series of pieces, most of which are between two and four minutes long. Quoting the artist: “Seclusion, whether forced or willful, is a powerful backdrop for my creative process. I love to go deep inside and pull out the emotions I feel; adapting those emotions to notes on a score is a natural outcome for me.” Known primarily for his electronic music, some of Wahler’s new pieces are for solo piano and some have additional instrumentation. Currents is David Wahler’s ninth album to date and I have reviewed all but one of his albums since his 2009 debut, Antiquus. I’ve also become a big fan of his music, which is always deeply expressive and beautifully poetic, as is Currents.
The album begins with “Tale,” a piece performed on what sounds like a harpsichord. Wistful and dreamy in parts and more determined in others, it’s an intriguing start. “Looking In,” a piano piece with atmospheric keyboard washes, is both poignant and honest. A duet for piano and cello, “Gift” expresses strong melancholy feelings and perhaps a touch of loneliness. “Giverny” layers soothing keyboard voices to evoke peaceful, magical images. It makes me think of fog rolling gently down the beach or soft rain on new flower buds - a favorite! “Red Sky” returns to a harpsichord-like sound and pairs a couple of repeated notes with a haunting, mysterious melody that becomes more ambient in the middle and returns for the rest of the piece - I really like this one, too! The title track, “Currents,” is livelier and more light-hearted with a bit more orchestration and wordless voices. “Dusk” uses a slightly muted piano sound that allows some of the sounds from the piano action to become part of the music - soft, peaceful and magical. “Waiting” is another favorite. The left hand plays a rhythmic pattern that suggests the passage of time while the right hand is more expressive and emotional. “Margot” is very dark and despairing, but is also gorgeous and very deeply felt. “Falling Into” returns to a more ambient style that is relaxed and effortless, almost floating. Graceful and delicate, “Veil” soulfully expresses sadness as well as feelings of resignation. I love the simple honesty of “Vision.” Played on the slightly muted piano, the melancholy mood seems to flow from the artist’s fingers to the listener’s heart. “Glance” brings the album to a pensive close with a piece that sometimes feels optimistic and sometimes feels tragic - not unlike this time in our lives.
Currents is available from Amazon, Bandcamp, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites like Spotify. It’s a beautiful musical journey!
January 3, 2021