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The word “cinematic” is seriously overused in describing instrumental music. But the term actually applies to Tiny Lights, the latest from pianist and composer Romain Collin. And although two tracks are supplemented by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, the other eight manage to achieve an epic sweep despite featuring just three musicians.
The players in question are Collin, who also contributes Moog Taurus bass synthesizer, plus Obed Calvaire on acoustic and electronic drums and electric guitarist Matthew Stevens, whose aggressive riffology regularly busts through genre boundaries.
The structure of the piece is properly Aristotelian, with the cuts broken into three acts that follow Collin’s rough narrative outline about the birth, life and death of an unnamed protagonist. But rather than making the story explicit through the extensive use of lyrics, the performers opt for aural impressionism, and it’s the right call, since it allows listeners to form their own imagery — and the music proves inspirational in that respect.
Opening cut “Overflow” instantly captivates thanks to the way Calvaire’s busy patterns are juxtaposed against Stevens’s skronking as Collin ladles on the atmosphere. “There Will Be Blood,” which follows, nods to the genius soundtrack (by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood) from the film of the same name, while “Follow” offers a jolt of solid rock energy. The more deliberate middle section is highlighted by the shimmering touches that mark “Gold,” while the closing passages move from the beguiling surrealism of “Tiny Lights That Move and Speak” to “Repeat and Fade,” which concludes the proceedings on an elegiac note.
In some ways, Tiny Lights is Collin’s audition reel to movie producers looking for someone to score their next flick. But it also works as a creative journey that moves logically through assorted moods and emotions before nailing a satisfying ending. That’s worth the price of admission.—Michael Roberts
Featured photo by Neutro.