2019 / Milvus
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have had the pleasure of getting to know the music of a very wide variety of musicians and composers over the twenty plus years that I’ve been writing reviews, but one who really stands out is Spanish pianist/composer/keyboardist Hugo Selles. To date, most of his albums have been under the name Psychic Equalizer, beginning with his 2012 debut, Memories From a Cold Place. Glerskáldskapur is his fourth release for 2019, closely following his album of piano improvisations, Introversia, which I love!
The recipient of several scholarships, Hugo Selles graduated from Jesús de Monasterio Conservatory of Music, Higher School of Music of the Basque Country Musikene, SAE Institute Madrid and The Royal Danish Academy of Music. He completed his Advanced Post-Graduate Diploma Soloist Class at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in 2017.
The album title, Glerskáldskapur, was created from Icelandic words that describe the quiet landscapes of wintertime: the cold, the ice and especially the snow as well as the introspection and meditation that always come at this time of year. The concept originated with two poets, Sergio Balbontin and Julio Ceballos, who created a multidisciplinary live performance with Selles performing music composed by himself and an unusual assortment of other composers. The performance includes live poetry and videography, and is a lyrical look at the winter landscapes created by silence. In the live show, Selles performs the music continuously, but on the album, each piece is its own track. Some are solo piano and some include synth. In one sense, you could call this album “chill,” but it would have to revert back to the original meaning of the word - COLD!
Glerskáldskapur begins with “Opening” by Philip Glass. The percussive nature of the repetitive chords gives it a bite - much like bitter cold. “Departure” by Max Richter has a simple but very poignant melody supported by a quickly-moving left hand. For me, it expresses feelings of being very isolated and alone. “Møn” is an original composition for piano and synth. Very dark, cold and intense, it’s my favorite piece on the album. “Snowflake” is also original and for piano and synth. This one is much more peaceful and still. It’s still chilly, but also expresses a sense of wonder. Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne #4” was a pleasant surprise and fits right in with the other music. “De Profundis” by Michael Sapin is a beautiful and very introspective piano solo that, again, seems to express isolation - also a favorite. “Shinrin-Yoku” is the third original piece in the collection, also synth and piano. Dark, mysterious and very atmospheric, it’s an edgy and powerful work. Brrrr! Chopin’s “Prelude” (nicknamed “Raindrop”) was another pleasant surprise. Melodic and peaceful, Selles plays it beautifully! Yann Tiersen’s “Porz Goret,” a piano solo, is light and dreamy, almost wistful. “Departures” by Josh Cohen, a piano and synth mix, is sometimes ambient and sometimes melodic, always magical. The closing track, “Mishma,” is also by Philip Glass. Lighter and more energetic, it brings this excellent album to a lovely close.
Glerskáldskapur reveals another amazing facet of Hugo Selles’ musical artistry. It is available from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music and many streaming sites.
December 15, 2019
with Psychic Equalizer