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Leah Kardos – Three Preludes EP

Leah Kardos & Ben Dawson – Three Preludes

A fascinating presentation, Three Preludes contrasts the natural with the artificial, juxtaposing a trio of hand played piano pieces with derivative electronic-based abstract interpretations, commenting on music’s changing states by showing it’s progression and origins. The final recordings of Leah Kardos’s three original compositions are informed by recordings of the process that preceded them, from the first sight read with all it’s mistakes to ambient noise from the rehearsals. By considering this the listener becomes acutely aware of not only the process that is behind a recording but also the human element of the pieces; one can imagine Ben Dawson sitting down at the piano to play, warming up his hands and adjusting his seat before putting his fingers to the keys and beginning to navigate the bars in front of him, his understanding of what he is performing growing with each note played.

The longest of the three piano pieces, Draw, plays on moments of intense sadness and passages of uplifting hopefulness echoing the idea of process that underpins the Ep. It begins somewhere in between the two extremes with a strong nostalgia that casts a rose tinted lens over ones memories, summoning happy moments from the past. Then rather suddenly the melody lifts, rising and cascading with all the flurry of activity and aspiration, no longer looking back but carving a path into what is to come. Before long it settles once again but now the joyful sense of retrospect has been lost and the listener is left in the cold, unforgiving preset. The music starts to drag and falter like aspirations that have been crushed.

February feels like the soundtrack to the month that is it’s name. It offers the same sense of patience and suppressed optimism that permeates that time of the year when one pines for the spring in the often cold and unforgiving remnants of winter. The final part of the track when the key strokes become stronger echoes that innately human feeling of frustration that arises during the depths of the darker months. If one were to relate Hold Pattern to a season it would most certainly be Autumn. The tune is intricate and detailed like the patchwork of yellows and oranges that litter the ground. It sounds like the wind, lifting and falling, blowing leaves around in a dizzying flurry.

Whilst the three piano pieces are very human in the way they are played and seem to connect with different elements of life the abstract interpretations that also feature on the Ep are subtly divorced from this humanity. The source material for these also came from ambient rehearsal sounds and recordings captured before the final recordings of the Three Preludes thus maintaing the emphasis on the process of making music. January is a dark, barely changing soundscape, a drone that reflects a stark bleakness that is found in the mind as much as it is in the wintery wastelands it conjures pictures of. There is a low howling that at times sounds like a piercing icy wind but at others like calls of despair uttered by an inhuman voice.

Correction/E17 is an equally impressive aural collage but one which does not seem to correspond to any state of nature that exists in the real world. The fuzz and light distortion give it a dreamlike quality disconnecting it from true reality. There is a feeling of transportation, the mind is taken to some other place that is warm and protective away from the harsh winter of January. Perhaps the most interesting of the three interpretations is Orann. Through disjointed sampling it combines the musicality of the piano pieces with the inhuman qualities of the other two abstract pieces. The melody is arranged as drums normally would be and the percussion itself is informed by hip-hop and provides a both simultaneously pleasing and disconcerting rhythmic swing. The temptation is to try and dance, to move with the beat but the irregularity makes it confusing to do so.

Album Title: Three Preludes
Artist: Leah Kardos
Release date: 18 November 2013
Available: iTunes, Bandcamp

Written by Oliver M

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