2019 / Milvus
Review by Kathy Parsons
Introversia is a collection of thirteen solo piano improvisations by Spanish composer/pianist Hugo Selles and is his third release of 2019. Selles founded the award-winning Psychic Equalizer, and I have reviewed three of his albums under that name. As a soloist and as part of many different ensembles and projects, Selles explores a wide variety of music styles, keeping his projects fresh and unpredictable. He has performed as a soloist and with different ensembles in concerts and festivals throughout Europe, Singapore and Australia. The recipient of several scholarships, 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.
Improvisations can be music that is composed and performed spontaneously or the artist can freely re-work a theme by another composer, perhaps taking it in a different direction from the original. The latter is the form of improvisation Selles uses on most of Introversia, basing his creations on themes by composers as diverse as JS Bach, Edvard Grieg, Pat Metheny, Radiohead and Neil Young. Two tracks are “concept-based free improvisations” by Selles and the last track is a medley of songs by Psychic Equalizer, also composed by Selles. The music is as diverse as its sources of inspiration and ranges from quiet, lyrical themes to very dramatic, powerful music.
I really appreciate Selles’ quote in the liner notes of the album: “In these tumultuous times when I sometimes feel there is no possible change, I seek refuge in my own inner self. It’s only through the gift of music that I’ve been given, and for which I’m so incredibly grateful, that I can most express my doubts, my insecurities, my hopes, and my darkest thoughts. And it’s when I find myself in such a depressive mood, no matter how hard I try to fight against it, that no language can harbour my feelings but musical improvisation.”
Introversia is an always-interesting album from the first note to the last, but I’ll mention a few favorites. “Fuge” is an intense and dramatic piece based on a theme by JS Bach that is more jazz than Baroque - and there is nothing wrong with that! “Melancholia” is a dark and moody improvisation created by Selles. Minimalistic and on the quiet, more subdued side, it’s very beautiful. The poignant and deeply emotional “Tell Her You Saw Me” was inspired by a piece by Pat Metheny. “Prelude” is an improvisation on a theme by Alexander Scriabin. Sometimes very percussive and frenetic, sometimes smooth and lyrical, and sometimes big and bold it’s a fascinating study in musical contrasts. “Melodie” is a dark and elegant exploration of a theme by Edvard Grieg. My favorite piece on the album is “A Little Goes A Long Way,” which was inspired by a poem by Rebecca Fionna. Calm and introspective, the simple melody is supported by gently rolling broken chords that are hypnotic and soothing. “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is an 8+ minute improvisation on a theme by Neil Young that encompasses a whole range of musical styles including blues and jazz. It’s impressive how Selles weaves the theme in and out of the piece!
So, if you are looking for a little musical adventure, Introversia is a really good choice! It is available from Amazon and iTunes/Apple Music as well as many streaming sites.
November 12, 2019