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Dave Greening

“Like a Picasso”

Every community, either online or offline, has its own history and legendary members, who leave traces, lasting for years. Once I got into Piano Cloud community on SoundCloud, it was inevitable to come across Dave Greening’s music that caught my attention for its improvisational nature – something that is very close to the way I create music myself.

Dave began playing piano at the age of 6, but quickly rebelled against the idea of labouring on the same piece of sheet music over and again and playing a piece of music to a set tempo. It was about the time when Dave got a passion for excessive rubato and freedom. He continued piano lessons until the age of 15, but was self taught from there on. At the age of 18, Dave received an A level in music, having learnt about serialism, Bach chorale, and various other compositional devices which he tries to bring into his music. Being an amazingly prolific music creator, Dave has released over 20 full-length albums and a couple of EPs.

Like a Picasso”, Dave’s newest album, is true to its title, being modern, diverse, daring, spontaneous, bright, intriguing and intelligently quoting the old masters. Covering a variety of genres, from Irish “Temple Bar” to the industrial “Grit”, integrating electronic soundtracks alongside solo piano and accompanied piano pieces, this album is just like a Picasso painting, having a lot of unexpected twists and turns with an underlying raw sense of passion and emotion.

”Sought tulip”, the opening track, sounds almost like raindrops, hesitating and gentle, on a dark foggy day. Crystal sounds are arranged into challenging, unexpected structures. Beautiful runs, both impressionistic and very emotional, perfectly contrast massive left hand chords. Harmony changes felt to me like being inspired by Spring and literally left me speechless.

The following track, called “Lonely February”, starts with repetitive rhythmic bass line, gradually building up to a whole wide spectrum of instruments reflecting the winter atmosphere. I was captivated by warm sounds of a flute, cold icicles of bells and spacious piano lines that brought the track to its elegant finale.

Paris on a Winter Morning”, the 3rd track, is kind of a fancy, moody waltz, that lifts you of your chair. I particularly enjoyed hearing how the performer’s flying fingers touch the piano: those little rhythmic “accidents” added so much charm and live atmosphere. It almost felt to me as if upright bass was present during the recording. Three minutes from the start, when the track speeds up and turns into a cheerful tune, I could imagine a street band entering right then!

Coming next, ”Always counting”, is one of the more relaxing and very melodic tunes of this album. I especially loved the lower register sounds and I think this one was one of the most cinematic and atmospheric tracks.

The following “Fine dancer” continues the series of brilliant waltzes. Truly energetic, classical and authentic to the elegance of a ballroom. As the track progresses, it explodes into a rocking 2nd part with heavy chords, which bring in the thunder rumbling, followed by a drop to a more nostalgic feel. Amazing how much of a story the 3 minutes of this track could tell.

The title track, “Like a Picasso”, is the quintessence of the album – it is surprising, modern, yet so classical. The track started with enchanting harmony moves that sounded jazzy to me. However, after a minute of this serenity, another waltz frenzy starts with fresh semitones in the melody and bright high notes, both dancing and creating lovely chaos. Hearing the run in Chopin or Beethoven style almost brought back the classic feel of the previous tracks. I love the quoting of the Masters, yet imprinted with Dave’s own signature. The ending was just epic and made me listen to this track again, and then again…

We all get there”, the 7th track, is another incredible waltz, with a different mood and story. It starts somber and dark and then gradually builds up to multiple voices of strings, making the mood even darker. It felt to me like some kind of a cinematic battle aftermath with the rhythmic strings parts supporting rumbling piano line. Then the music drops to some sort of catharsis, with the most beautiful dialogue of a faster piano melody and slower strings solo. I particularly enjoyed slightly dissonant and bluesy harmonies that are used here at times. The choir at the end wraps this piece up on the high tension note!

The following track, called “Deprived of you”, is surprising with an authentic trance composition, yet it’s very melodic and orchestrated. “A glimpse”, the 9th track, includes ethnic percussion, but minimal melody combined greatly with the spacious phrasing of the guitar’s line and supported by trance oriented ambient sounds. To me it has breathtaking combination of instruments, styles and moods.

Coming up next, “Grit” is industrial, syncopated and dark composition, with an explosive start, again in the trance mood. Very cinematic story that I would refer to as longing, complaining, surviving, mostly told by the strings solo. The other instruments worked as a great rich atmospheric background.

Leaving the industrial and trance moods behind, the next track, called “Temple Bar”, takes you into a different realm, making the album a true journey with a wide spectrum of colors. Irish dancing, country sounds and the great vibrating ¾ signature as in many other tracks makes it both cheerful and artistic.

Those simple moments”, the 12th track, contains circulating harmonies and a repetitive minimalistic spacious melody. This could be a relaxation after or before a storm. I felt like my heart skipped a beat, when the second piano line entered the scene. The overwhelming beauty of those simple moments is vividly created with simple sounds, which could sooth even Picasso’s bold colors. Strings and harp add angelic warm feel to the crystal tinkling of piano’s high notes.

A remixed version of the title track concludes this colorful and multifaceted album following the sweet “Take me over” performed alongside his wife. I hope you will enjoy listening to it as much as I did.

Album review by Milana Zilnik
Proof-reading by Arty Sandler