Breathbox – Antti Paalanen, 3-row button accordion – Sibarecords multichannel SACD 1005, 39:04 [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:
Antti Paalanen’s accordion music is difficult to categorize; though the album itself lists it as “folk” and “alternative”, only the latter seems apropos. There is little even elementally folksy about these nine tracks, though those familiar with classical minimalism will certainly have their heads turned as Paalanen seems to have created a form that fuses the now forty-year-old classical genre with the elements of pop and the rhythms of electronica. What is all the more amazing is that these disparate elements are present in the performance of a single performer who is able to manipulate and expand his instrument to a degree that multiple players seem present though are in fact superfluous. [He uses overdubbing, as well as Steve Reich-like “cells.”…Ed.]
The total timing is short, making it all the more a candidate for the pop listings than the classical, and the meditative aspects of much of the music—make that hypnotic—won’t be suitable for 24-hour listening. But the music is catchy and aggressively earthy in its attachment to our basest rhythmical instincts while appealing to the most elemental of melodic drives as well. That alone make it almost infectious in appeal, and it is very well captured here. [Here’s an interesting video clip of Antti Paalanen in action…Ed.]
TrackList: Breathe; Permafrost; Tailspin; Boggler; Northern Wind; Winter’s Dance; Mementos; Gaza; Solitude
A posthumous release of late career Bill Evans in SACD format adds to the formidable legacy.