Nathan Bowles – Chiaroscuro (from the album Whole and cloven, Paradise of Bachelors)

This is about the last thing you would expect from an artist renowned for banjo playing and Appalachian folk tunes.

It’s a solo piano piece consisting of a core unchanging 6-note pattern – fast, repeating – while around it staccato bursts of notes drift in and out of phase creating a hypnotic interlocking whole.

It’s the kind of minimalist phasing exercise you might associate with Messers Glass or Reich.

It lasts about 3 minutes but it feels much a good way. In the sense that you feel like you’ve been through something significant. Something worthwhile. And something, if you’re anything like me, you feel you need to listen to again immediately to figure out what just happened.

It’s not exactly clear what it’s doing on an album of mostly banjo tunes, mysterious and tantalising as they are.

But then again, why question when beauty arrives.

Let’s just treat it as an absorbing, intriguing puzzle.

Track 8 in this playlist


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