Reviewed by Cathy Oakes
October 2nd, 2013
A very courageous undertaking with its improvisational style and its compositional structure of fourteen movements of one piece, I find much to admire in Atilla Gibson’s first CD effort, Indelible Piano. His near-athletic ability on the piano is admirable. I found the tuning issues with the piano, itself a little distracting. But overall, this was a disc that was audibly pleasing with its themes weaving in and out of each movement, tying the piece together as a whole.
Comparing this disc to a visual experience, I would say that it is much like wandering from room to room in a palatial mansion. There are 14 “rooms,” each with its own unique flavor and flair, yet, unmistakably part of the whole.
Movement 1 begins quietly, building through runs and varying meters to a climax with strong chords and driving rhythms to “wake” the listener and entice the ear to want to hear more. Movement 2 literally chimes in with beautiful, complex chords ringing quietly. This piece has almost a music box feel and is a wonderful contrast to the more forceful opening movement.
Other personal favorites include Movement 6, which consists of surprising chords that made me catch my breath, amazing finger work and a lilting, Gypsy flavor. Movement 10 is slower and more pensive with a beautiful, almost haunting melody. The cadenza-like beginning to Movement 11 hints at a Spanish flair. The piece continues in that Spanish flavor with beautiful arpeggios that soar. The quieter, more reflective mood of Movement 12 is a nice contrast to the rest of the work. Movement 14 begins with “chimes” that are reminiscent of Movement 2 and wraps this disc up well with a “not quite” finality that leaves the listener wondering what adventures await in the sequel. Well played, Mr. Gibson!
If I were to offer any criticism of this effort, it would be of the tuning issues in the piano and the occasional ambient noises. Of course, as is inherent and even expected of any improvisational work, there is the occasional “oops” in a wrong note or smudged fingering. In this case, those are few and far between. Also, as often found in improvisation, is the tendency to simplify the harmonic foundation by rocking back and forth between the I and IV chords. This allows the pianist the freedom to skip the right hand acrobatically above the harmony of the left hand. However, there are many patrons of this genre of music who prefer this style and consider it to be desirable. They will find this disc to be very soothing and pleasing to the ear.
Over all, I would rate this work to be a strong 4 out of 5 stars. I consider Mr. Gibson to be a talented and promising young artist and look forward to hearing much more from him.
Resonance Of Essence
Reviewed by Donovan Johnson
July 2nd, 2014
“Resonance Of Essence” is the second of Attila Gibson’s solo piano recordings. After listening to the disk several times, I’ve decided I like it better, although it’s taken some listening to come to that conclusion. The melodies, on the whole, are much stronger. The flow of the album is quite nice, and some of Attila’s technique is able to shine through, strongly, into the recordings. The recording itself (piano sound, tonality, etc) is okay. While Attila does record on a real piano, we’re at times able to hear ambient noises, like things rustling around in the background. I’d be curious to know what kind of piano was used for this recording as well.
Attila Gibson is a pianist and keyboardist based in Apple Valley CA. For the most part Attila composes improvisational music, that is he plays pieces “on the fly” without any kind of thought as to the composition beforehand. This disk does sound a bit more constructed than his previous one, though clearly still improvisational in many places and throughout the pieces. It’s almost as if he’s put together a blueprint of what the piece should be, then improvised his way through it. Very effective!
It’s not a relaxing album, by any stretch. Often, Attila makes his way through the pieces with many leaps and runs, covering the bass and midrange. The overall “feel” to the album is quite aggressive and energetic, although there are a few exceptions. Also found inside the pieces is an uncomfortable dissonance between some of the tones and chord progressions. This creates some very interesting listening, but certainly not relaxing.
Favorite tracks on the album would be numbers three, eleven and twelve. Track three, “Peaceful,” begins with a nice vamp in D, which really does bring the listener to a peaceful place. Images of crispy leaves on a fall day, and the wonder of nature come to mind as I listen. Attila does a great job of guiding the listener through a development of some simple chords, which build up to a change at the end. When this happens, the feel of the piece will have you melting and wanting more! The vamp at the end could go on forever. Easily my favorite track on the album.
Track eleven, “Mesmerize,” is sad and dark, mystical. It has a very Nocturne-like feel to it, minor and lamenting. The piece doesn’t brood, which is all too common with pieces performed in this style. It feels like an honest expression of grief, which is often itself mesmerizing to those who are experiencing it.
The closing track on the album is called “Meaningful Things.” It’s a piece which begins with a light, reflective touch and develops very gradually. Attila uses lots of nice ornaments here, and some of the right hand runs and tremolos in the middle of the piece add to the reflective feel while at the same time bringing the piece to life. There is also some “pop” influence here, which will spontaneously and unexpectedly show itself before disappearing just as quickly. A treat to listen to!
“Resonance Of Essence” is an album that is not for the casual listener, or for someone who is looking for music for relaxation. If you’re looking for a title that will have you involved in your listening, I’d recommend you have a listen. This recording will take you on a passionate journey, and bring you back with many new and unexpected delights!
Attila Gibson’s music can be found on Amazon, CDBaby, ITunes, and his FaceBook page www.facebook.com/attilagibsonmusic