Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Album Review: The Lonely Sailor from James Fernando

Album:  The Lonely Sailor
Artist:  James Fernando
Label:  Self-Released

Pianist James Fernando tells a personal story on his solo debut recording The Lonely Sailor.  As listeners course through the recording, they discover a lone artist who embarks on a journey of personal growth.  At the start, the tracks illuminate melodic passages that are purely acoustic.  However, as the tracks progress, the music turns more sci-fi-like and electronically textured, exploring unknown territory as the subject of the story searches for what Fernando tells in the liner notes "for a better place."

Starting off the recording, the title track and "Untold" are composed chiefly of classical paradigms and dramatic surges as though taken from the notebooks of such romantic pianists as Johannes Brahms or Franz Schubert. Moving on, "The Journey Within" is a macabre piece interceded by sprinkles of trickling notes propped by a noir landscape.  Discernibly, "Ancient Lullaby" draws out Fernando's inclination to compose prismatic soundscapes, adorned in layers of moving notes resembling millions of particles scampering and glowing in a libation-imbued frenzy.

"Troubled Waters" has equal measures of metallic-infused calibrations combined with acoustic keys. Fernando tells in the liner notes that he achieves this sound by attaching microphones to his piano and sending the notes through his computer, controlled by a software program that enhances the pitch, vibration and inflection of his notes.  The acoustic sound of his piano keys are then augmented by the metallic hues of the computer.

"The Other Side of the Storm" continues this pattern of partnering acoustic and electronically modulated notes, settling into an agreeable relationship. "The Last Sunset at Sea" seesaws between dramatic indentations and soothing sonic purrs, closing the recording with the purely electronic-driven "Where the Grass Is Greener." The closing track drips notes slowly and softly into the listener's ear, inciting a introspective mood made-up of electronically augmented piano keys.  It is here that Fernando's music shows a totally 21st century timbre as opposed to the start of the CD, which has a late 19th century classical music slant.

Fueled by his agile imagination, James Fernando expands the concept of using the piano to compose music by hooking up his twinkling ivories to a computer that feeds the notes through a 21st century software program.  If such technology had existed during Brahms or Schubert's time, this style of music would have showed up then.  Instead, it is the present-day generation of listeners who can experience the sweetness of electronically augmented piano keys.

James Fernando - piano

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