Piano Interrupted - Two By Four [Denovali - 2013]'Two By Four' is a re-issue of London-based Piano Interrupted's debut album from last year. It was originally self-released to sell at the band's live performances, in which laptop musician Franz Kirmann has been 'interrupting' soundtrack composer and pianist Tom Hodge since 2009. However, the album's title 'Two By Four' relates to the duo's more recent expansion into a quartet that now features Greg Hall on cello and Eric Young on percussion.
As 'Two By Four's' sleevenotes indicate, Piano Interrupted do-what-they-say-on-the-tin through a "focus on recycling, reinventing and 'interrupting' ... various rhythmic and melodic motifs". However, if this rouses any expectations of stimulating experiments along the lines of Cage's prepared keys meeting Autechre's textural irregularities, you may be dissappointed.
Beginning with the seductive glide of Hall's cello, the opening track, 'You Don't Love Me Yet', nimbly skips into an anaemic, lite dinner jazz. The complimentary glitchy rhythms, far from 'interrupting', faithfully follow the dynamics of Hodge's polite piano, to provide a smooth background paste.
The skilful but staid presentation of a range of styles that follows travels the short distances between the cinematic montage music of 'Hobi' and 'Son of Foug' through the 21st century baroque electronica on 'Étude' to jazzy pedestrian chase scenes provided by 'Hédi' and 'Son of Pi'.
Perhaps Piano Interrupted's sound seems less distinct thanks to television advertising's frequent safe choices of piano motifs and/or electronic rhythms to target so-called ABC1s - co-opting the perceived sophistication of classical music with the more youthful suggestions of the street rhythms of rave. In this way, many of the tracks on 'Two By Four' conjure up images of middle class, romantic vignettes or healthy, happy families out on a country walk. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with that, but it makes it difficult to take Piano Interrupted's music as something to focus on in the foreground as it so tidily assumes a position in the background that you almost expect to be approached by someone smartly dressed enquiring "is everything alright with your meal?".Russell Cuzner