Tim Johnson (piano), Miller Wrenn (bass), Ben Scanlan (drums), Shalini Vijayan (violin) and Anthony Stornolio (concert bass drum) are Music by Gestalt. I never heard of this band before but got an opportunity to listen to their release Debussy's Fawn. It’s what I would call musicians’s music. This sounds pretentious but if you aren’t familiar with music theory you might miss how much is going on at a technical level. The important part isn’t the technical work; it's the band’s ability to create an emotionally powerful piece of music which is really the gold everyone is after.
The music mixes elements of jazz, classical and post-rock to name a few. Let's start at the beginning with “The Frog's Song.” It begins with a hypnotic and melancholy piano pattern that is interjected with dissonance from a different instrument. I loved the dichotomy right away.The song however is just getting going. We are led to beautiful piano patterns that soon get joined by very front and center drums. The song leads you through so many moods and patterns of energy. There’s joy and there’s awkwardness. It’s really all over the place emotionally and hits upon a lot of gray areas which I love to hear.
“Church Music” starts with a mesmerizing piano pattern and a rolling snare. It’s graceful, pensive and starts to explode in post-rock fashion. The song feels celebratory in a way but more like you are having epiphanies every second and a half before finding rolling hills of dissonance which weave in and out. It's an absolutely thrilling song.
“Debussy's Fawn” is another testament to their ability as musicians. Scalan is all over this song. The drumming is just insane but really the whole song is one where every player here is playing to the peak of musical talent.
The next three songs “Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 1,” “Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 2” and “Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 3” are simply amazing pieces of music. I can’t do it justice with words but the band does take advantage of space in different ways. “Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 1” is haunting and minimal but also can change moods in seconds and come back.
“Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 2” is a cascading wall of notes. It’s almost overloaded. The music requires attention and repeated listens. The last song “Rabbit in a Snowstorm, Part 3” has the most palatable melodies and some of it reminded of Celtic music.
Fans of composers like Philip Glass, Steve Reich and other like-minded artists will love this. This is music. There is no marketing team or brand needed here. The music stands on its own and is a high echelon of what’s capable within the art. Highly recommended.
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