Chilly Gonzales Chambers on LP + CD
Canadian pianist and entertainer Chilly Gonzales returns with Chambers, his much anticipated follow-up to Solo Piano II. Since the release of Solo Piano II, Gonzales composed the best-selling book of easy piano pieces Re-Introduction Etudes, produced and released Octave Minds, the piano-meets-electronica album with Boys Noize and, most importantly devoted himself to finding a modern take on chamber music.
The result is Chambers, an album for piano and string quartet (and a few surprises along the way). Inspired by the deepending relationship with Hamburg's Kaiser Quartett, the album re-imagines Romantic-era chamber music as today's addictive pop. Gestures from rap, ambient, easy listening and the avant-garde co-exist as always in Chilly Gonzales’ musical universe - this time with strings attached.
Know equally for his intimate piano touch as for his showmanship, 'Gonzo' aims to be a man of his time, approaching the piano with classical and jazz training but with the attitude of a rapper. Chilly holds the Guiness world record for the longest solo concert at over 27 hours and performs and writes songs with such diverse artists as Jarvis Cocker, Feist and Drake. In 2014 he won a Grammy for his collaboration on Daft Punk's Best Album of the Year.
Introduced by Chilly Gonzales:
Prelude To A Feud - Dedicated to Bach and Daft Punk
In Bach's time, a prelude would introduce a "fugue", but this introduces a "feud" - a musical grudge- match between artist and entertainer. The piano cascades are a live acoustic take on synthesized arpeggios, such as one might hear from my robot friends. Except this arpeggiator is not a button on a keyboard but a struggling human. Hands down (pun intended) the most technically difficult part of the album to deliver.
Advantage Points - Dedicated to John McEnroe
The "points" are staccato - clipped, insistent. I attempted musical pointillism with Wimbledon '80 as my backdrop. Try to imagine the waltzing B-section as the endorphins kicking in after a marathon - the transcendence of physical technique (using a racquet or a piano) into pure bliss. This could just as easily have been dedicated to Bobby Fischer, Glenn Gould or Michael Jackson's moonwalk. It all depends on your vantage point.
Sweet Burden - Dedicated to Gabriel Faure
My Solo Piano song (and label) Gentle Threat is one of many contradictory titles in my repertoire. Sweet Burden is the album's first bona fide tear jerker. A long, ambiguous melody inspired by French composer Gabriel Faure. The viola solo is slowly joined by the cello, while the violins chime in with a single-note pattern. We all have our burdens to bear, and maybe only music can sweeten them.
The Difference - Dedicated to musicians everywhere
There are many musicians out there in the world today. Some of them frauds, others merely mediocre, and a scant few worthy of listening. Can YOU tell the difference?
Freudian Slippers - Dedicated to the subconscious
Part One of the album closes with this 2-part epic. How does one attempt to convey the unknown workings of the brain? With surrealist techniques like the violin "doppelgängers"? With stumbling, mumbling rhythms? With chorale-like interruptions that try to impose order? It's all in vain, hope slips away. Part Two: rap on it, you'll see, it works.
Solitaire - Dedicated to the piano
The string quartet takes a smoke break. I couldn't get this tune out of my head - I needed a moment alone, and therefore so does the listener.
Odessa - Dedicated to Reinhold Gliere
Reinhold Gliere was the Ukranian composer with the German first name and the French last name. He is the missing link between the accessibility of Tchaikovsky and the spiky modernism of Prokofiev. This piece appeared in a simplified version as a Re-Introduction Etude; this fleshed-out version adds a controlled dose of Hollywood sentimentality and a nod to Stevie Wonder-style analog portamento (played on a violin by sliding from one note to the other).
Sample This - Dedicated to Rick Ross
A ubiquitous rhythm in Southern hip-hop gets translated to four fiddles. You should BANG this song and imagine a very fat rapper performing it. The use of the imperative on the song title is meant to convey urgency. Hip-hop is a culture, but rap is a musical style like any other, and deserves acoustic treatment once in a while.
Green's Leaves - Dedicated to King Henry VIII
A party in the town square, everyone drank too much and there is no more mead. Luckily there are some green leaves to keep the party going. This jaunty square dance shares some musical DNA with one of the greatest songs of all time Greensleeves, possibly written by King Henry VIII ... but probably not.
Cello Gonzales - Dedicated to Felix Mendelssohn
A pop song without words for the instrument that is most like the human voice. The cello stretches, struggles and breaks like our favorite singers - perfectly imperfect. This was the first piece I wrote for this album - I was still learning how to approach these new instruments with weird strings on them.
Switchcraft - Dedicated to Juicy J
From the theater piece The Shadow, this piece is inspired by chord progressions from the rapper Juicy J's repertoire. There is something asymmetric and Escher-like about the chords, like watching colors from different angles. That sounds pretentious but try imagining it! This climactic piece features French Horn and flute in addition to the quartet, so you KNOW we're getting close to the end.
Myth Me - Dedicated to Jason Beck
"Vanity is vanishing." But is it? Finally, some words, traditional musical communication through the voice. I am a composer who sings, and this is my pre-tirement anthem.
Chilly Gonzales Chambers Track Listing:
1. Prelude To A Feud
2. Advantage Points
3. Sweet Burden
4. Green’s Leaves
5. Freudian Slippers
8. Sample This
9. The Difference
10. Cello Gonzales
12. Myth Me