CD review: Francesco Tristano’s Circle Songs

First published in the Guardian on 31 August, 2017

Francesco Tristano: Piano Circle Songs
Tristano/Gonzales (Sony)

“Maybe we have to come up with a new series of labels,” says Francesco Tristano, suggesting “acid classical” or “acoustic disco” before thinking better of it. “Let the music speak for itself.” The Luxembourg-born pianist/composer/producer has done good on either side of the indie classical line, with previous albums variously featuring the solo music of Luciano Berio and orchestrated versions of Detroit techno anthems. His latest project lands in some innocuous middle zone, with stripped-back piano writing borrowing the loops and layers of deep house and the spacious textures and wan harmonies of ambient tracks. Canadian polymath Chilly Gonzales adds jazz-ish inflections and some buoyant interlocking grooves but not much else that I can hear; the pace of the album roams just enough to keep things interesting, with the final track, Third Haiku, arriving unexpectedly at somewhere quite delicate and introspective.