It’s not for no reason that the music of Theo Alexander appears in SoundCloud playlists on occasion alongside that of Nils Frahm. Like Frahm, Alexander balances a solo acoustic piano style between neo-classicalism and post-minimalism — that is, between an adherence to a longstanding instrumental literature, and an affection for a more recent one. What makes both musicians’ work trenchant today is how minimalism, once upon a time an avant-garde school, has become, through film and TV scores as well as through the popular rise of its founding composers, a romantic form.
The pulsing of Alexander’s right hand at the opening of “Disappearing Altogether” might have been a comment on mechanization and formal purity had it been composed and performed 30 years ago, but today it is the beating heart of a romantic figure. That Alexander can balance a percussive instinct with, as the piece proceeds, a penchant for melodic flourishing is very much to his credit.
Another thing Alexander shares with Frahm is a penchant for putting the mic very close to the piano. Just listen at 50 seconds in — when the piece takes its sole, momentary pause — to how the silence isn’t pure silence, but instead a careful framing, the waveforms of a handful of notes bending and bleeding and fading together, true to the track’s title.
“Disappearing Altogether” is from a forthcoming album titled Irresolution. Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/theoalexander. More from Theo Alexander, who is based in London, England, at theoalexander.bandcamp.com and theo-alexander.com. I first heard the track when I was, briefly, giving the service submithub.com a try.
One thought on “The Romancing of Minimalism”
Lovely piece. I have been focused on the piano, and particularly solo piano, a lot lately. As a drummer it is an interesting transition as some of the same elements that work on trap set translate directly. High-note to high-hat like this piece, for instance. Really highlights how this is a percussion instrument.