The duo of pianist Stafano Battaglia and percussionist Michele Rabbia are at it again, with their newest collection of minimalistic jazz & avant-garde for ECM called Pastorale. To describe Pastorale to someone with only a passing interest in jazz could prove to be quite difficult, however, imagine early 70's Tangerine Dream on a chance meeting with Brian Eno, except all they had with them was a piano, some percussion, and a few electronic gadgets...in reality you wouldn't be too off the mark. There are some gorgeous pieces here that will instantly appeal to the jazz crowd, however, it's the atmospheric, often times spacey & ominous numbers such as "Metaphysical Consolations" and "Monasterium" that are sure to send chills up and down your spine. These are tracks that barely register a blip on the radar, with nary a heartbeat or pulse, yet the creepy piano notes and odd clink of percussion or bubbling electronics instantly sets a mood, and it's not a happy or joyous one.
A piece like "Oracle" has elements of free-jazz, thanks to Battaglia's jagged piano runs and the generous wash of busy percussion, and "Cantar del alma" is a marvel of melodic piano notes, but the real draw here are the downright scary images created by "Kursk Requiem" and "Spirits of Myths", two near 'horror movie' sountrack numbers that I dare anyone to play alone in the house with the lights off. It's not often that musicians can create such serious 'mood' music, especially with such limited instruments.
It's not all doom & gloom however, as tracks "Tanztheater ", "Sundance in Balkh", and the title cut can attest to brighter moments, but for my money, the meat of Pastorale is in the darker pieces. Overall you really can't go wrong with this one; it's a CD that won't be for everyone, but for those looking for something far off the beaten path, Battaglia and Rabbia have put together just the journey for you.
2. Metaphysical Consolations
5. Kursk Requiem
6. Cantar del alma
7. Spirits of Myths
9. Sundance in Balkh
11. Vessel of Magic