Like All Mornings: bleak and desolate piano minimalism

Vanessa Amara, Like All Mornings, Denmark, Posh Isolation, PI 189 double cassette set (2017)

It may not be an album for everyone, especially those not keen on wall-to-wall minimalist piano with a doleful air, and perhaps the double cassette format isn’t suitable for this brooding recording because of all this hiss over what should be dark meditative spaces. Vanessa Amara is a Danish duo of Birk Gjerlufsen Nielsen and Victor Kjellerup Juhl who have been working together at least since 2012. The music is very delicate and fragile and consists of dreamy and sometimes quite emotional piano reveries with no goal or direction, over which wheezy electro-acoustic sounds and strings, suggestive of a frail machine structure in slow breakdown, groan and crank away. While the mood does change from one track to the next, it tends to be on the melancholy side.

This is piano playing at its bleakest and most desolate, yet it’s very elegant. Near the end, hope seems to appear in the desultory melodies while the eerie tones ebb back and forth constantly. Yet even as the notes trail off in the distance, a feeling of disquiet remains with you. This is probably not the kind of piano serenade you’d want to wake up to on a grey autumn or winter morning.