Friday, June 29, 2012

d'Eon - Music For Keyboards Vol. 1 / Music For Keyboards Vol. 2 (Hippos In Tanks, 2012)


Chris d'Eon has had a creatively bountiful year thus far. The Halifax-based synth savant began playing music around the early 90s when his parents had given him synthesizers and a sequencer at the age of four. Beyond the realm of electronics, his pursuits ventured into the music of Arabic, Iranian, and Turkish origins. During the time he spent living in a monestary in northern India, he met and received dranyen lessons from a Tibetan musician. His influences are far-reaching, and Hippos In Tanks (one of the most reliable arbiters of today's forward-thinking, laptop-wielding inquirers) have described d'Eon's work as the conflict of disparate elements, an analysis you could make use of on the subject of LP, a collision of contemporary R&B, ambient, and modern classicism.

Before the release of LP, (and perhaps as a way to soften the blow of his criticism of internet reliance on that album) d'Eon bestowed a two-volume collection of mixtapes upon us: the first of which consisting of material accrued over a 9-year period, and the other presumably recent. Whereas LP merged the worlds of No Jacket Required and Far Side Virtual, his classical nuances are paramount on Music For Keyboards. However, d'Eon doesn't reference the genre's forefathers as much as he does its reinforcement in minimalist opuses such as La Monte Young's The Well-Tuned Piano and Terry Riley's Shri Camel. Both volumes have an archaic figure and come close to being the album's antithesis.

Listening to both in succession, d'Eon's departure from the tenor of LP takes place gradually. Vol. 1 begins with delicate, swiftly accented pulses crossing paths with breaths of trebled sustain; it's faintly reminiscent of kosmische, yet still inhabits d'Eon's glossy touch-screen landscape. Not unlike the title track of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica, stark chords guide "84" as modulated oscillations swirl overhead. Vol. 1's most moving and tonally fascinating movement is "63" which percolates and glistens as its refrain rises to the surface. Closing with the somber and wistfully scored "118", d'Eon complements the trajectory drawn in the following mixtape.

Vol. 2 is condensed to under half the length of its varietal predecessor and affixed to a particular motif: each track is a piano variation of melodies and chord progressions inspired by blink-182's "What's My Age Again?". It could easily be dismissed as cheap-shot irony, but we should give d'Eon credit: Between that single and the band's other hit "All the Small Things", he chose to operate with the most melodically diverse of the two, leaving us with a mixtape that even in its limited scope presents divinely augmented adaptations that a piano cover of "What's My Age Again?" wouldn't resemble. Kinship is most apparent during "Variation V" which adapts the song's opening arpeggio to a soft loop. Both installments are examples of d'Eon at his most austere, looking for beauty in the slightest places.



[d'Eon Facebook]
[Stream/Download Music For Keyboards Vol. 1 / Vol. 2 from Hippos In Tanks]

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