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Album Review: Well Past Midnight
Rachel LaFond
Cover image of the album Well Past Midnight by Rachel LaFond
Well Past Midnight
Rachel LaFond
2018 / Rachel LaFond
34 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Have you ever wondered what kind of music the creatures of the night sing and dance to? I think Rachel LaFond has found the answer with her new album, Well Past Midnight. Dark, mysterious, sometimes mournful and even a little spooky, this beautiful album introduces a different side of Rachel’s composing and playing styles that I love! The ten-track album contains five original piano solos that feature a variety of moods centered around a haunting theme. The second half of the album was produced and adapted by award-winning composer and engineer Mike Bloemendal. It offers an even more vivid cinematic experience with the same five pieces orchestrated around the piano with synth orchestral instruments and effects.

Although a relative newcomer to the composing and recording scene, Rachel LaFond has already produced three exceptional albums - this new one, Encounters of the Beautiful Kind (2018) and Wandering Soul (2017). The Washington State native now makes her home in New Zealand, and just completed a very successful concert tour of the US. Her extensive classical training and experience is apparent in all of her music, as is her affinity for flawless but deeply expressive playing. Rachel LaFond is definitely an artist on her way up!

The five piano solos begin with “Dark Canyon,” a piece that starts out very sparsely with a simple but haunting melody. When the left hand enters, it’s with the steady pace of a ticking clock. Very atmospheric and even a little chilly, it’s a great mood-setter! The occasional sounds of a pedal “whoosh” suggest breathing or a very slow, muffled step. In “Alone in the Mist,” Rachel makes wonderful use of the damper pedal to create a mysterious and slightly unsettling ambiance. The minor key “Skelly Waltz” is just a little bit “off,” indicating that all is not quite right. It also has a playful side, but is still very dark. “Darling” is possibly the darkest of the five pieces. Very open and spare at the beginning, it spends much of the piece in the lower registers of the piano in a sometimes scary, sometimes mournful expression of loss and sadness - haunting in more ways than one! “Apparition” plays mostly in the upper half of the piano keyboard, but expresses deep sadness and regret.

The orchestrated versions of the pieces begin with “Dark Canyon - The Hallowed Path.” Strings and other instrumentation plus an occasional plaintive female voice swirl around the slow, spare piano - chilling but incredibly beautiful. “Alone in the Mist - Conjuring Shadows” has many eerie sounds behind the piano that include bells, an effect that sounds like dripping water, gradually adding full orchestral strings. The dark dankness of this piece caused me to turn on a light and move the thermostat up a notch!! “Skelly Waltz - A Night in the Graveyard” is both playful and sinister, and sounds like one creature is having fun at another’s expense! The strings in “Darling - Dark Romance” add poignance, grace and intense spookiness to the mournful piano. “Apparition - Remembrance” seems to be a tearful goodbye to a ghost or spirit. Strings and various wind instruments join the piano in this beautifully mournful farewell.

Well Past Midnight is very different from Rachel LaFond’s previous two albums, and I hope she will continue to explore this very vivid, atmospheric kind of storytelling because she is exceptionally good at it! The album is available from www.RachelLaFond.com, Amazon and iTunes.
October 21, 2018
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