One of my favorite tracks is “Abandon Window” by Jon Hopkins. There are a number of reasons I love that track but a lot of it has to do with the way the piano sounds. The recording is intimate where you can hear every detail and you can hear the sadness behind the notes. It’s a song that makes me feel sad but also makes me appreciate the fact that I can feel that type of sadness in the first place. That song felt a little like Opening by Vontmer.
The piano used on this album was over a hundred years old. Vontmer says on his Bandcamp page, “There were a lot of mechanical noises, but I chose to leave the imperfections there, Because life is imperfect, and the beauty of life – of nature, of everything – is in its imperfection. I actually wouldn’t even call them imperfections. It’s just the sound of the instrument in its entirety and a major reason this album is as beautiful as it is.
As far as I can hear there are two divisions within the piano itself. There is the clean almost regal sounding clarity. The tones and vibrations which feel almost perfect as they find space in the reverb around it. It’s the light in the dark room. On the other side of the coin are the creeks and rattling around the white light. Those “imperfections” are akin to the sound of a wooden door opening in an otherwise empty house or the sound of a person turning a page while reading a book. A real page not the digital kind.
I was reading about what these songs meant to the artist but decided against sharing his thoughts to let you form your own. There was a John Cage interview I remember listening to and will try and paraphrase what he was saying. He essentially said sounds don’t in and of itself mean anything. I agree with that. When we listen to music a complex process happens where we associate things like memory, experience and values subconsciously and we build a metaphorical bridge that creates an emotional response. That bridge is where the meaning lies.
I can only relay my own experience but think a majority of people who listen to these piano pieces might have a similar feeling to the one I had and the meaning that presented itself. If that’s true then you might be like me and find some solace and stillness in the vibrating waves that Opening contains.
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