- It's a lonely business, "bringing the piano into the 21st century." Francesco Tristano has few peers to compare himself to. His sensibility, however, is one that has been embraced warmly by techno polymaths Carl Craig and Agoria. Craig opened up Planet E studios to Tristano for the pianist's latest full-length, Idiosynkrasia, which appears on Agoria's always unpredictable Infine imprint. Despite their support, the result is all Tristano. His piano is ever-present, plinking, prodding and pulsing around whirrs, washes and whizzes. True to its name, this album could hardly have been created by anyone else.
Similar in structure to his debut Infine full-length, Not for Piano, Tristano plots out a number of different compositions on Idiosynkrasia. This time, though, he's jettisoned the cover versions of techno classics and presented original compositions throughout. The final product, as a result, feels a lot like his first real solo album for the label—his first cohesive statement when confronted by a blank canvas. And it's constructed beautifully, moving in a bell curve of amuse bouche beginnings to meaty middle to sweet dessert. "Nach Wasser Noch Erde" leads you gently in after the steady throb of "Mambo." "Wilson" starts slowly, eventually building to a funky, frenetic finish.
From there, the beat reigns supreme aside from the melancholic breather "Lastdays," all leading up to the enveloping grand finale "Hello (Inner Space Dub)." Throughout, the beat structure is unpredictable. "Eastern Market"'s handclaps swing, "Fragrance De Fraga"'s four/four smells modular. The piano is the thing here, each composition built in some manner around the melodic licks that Tristano unfurls. This is the blessing and the curse of Idiosynkrasia in the end. Tristano often seems afraid to go to places that his group, Aufgang, traveled to on their self-titled full-length from 2009.
"Fragrance De Fraga" is nice. But it feels slight. "Nach Wasser Noch Erde" is beautiful. But squint a little harder, and you may start to imagine it as the lead track on the mixtape you make immediately after you've just gotten out of a five year relationship. Tristano has different aims when he goes solo than he does when he works with Aufgang. The abstract ideas that colored that album aren't here. On Idiosynkrasia, he's trying to bring the piano into the 21st century. Sometimes it works wonderfully. The title track, for instance, balances light and dark, acoustic and modern with ease. Other times, though, it just sounds easy. Idiosynkrasia is good, but Tristano has even better in him.
02. Nach Wasser Noch Erde
05. Fragrance De Fraga
07. Eastern Market
08. Single and Doppio
09. Hello-Inner Space Dub-