Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Carpe Lumen

Elijah Bossenbroek

A Matter of Substance Records

2005

www.elijahbossenbroek.com

 

 

 

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Mainly Piano

 

 

 

 

I was first introduced to the music of Elijah Bossenbroek through Kathy Parsons' ‘Mainly Piano’ web-site. She was full of praise for his second CD, Carpe Lumen. I was sufficiently intrigued to make the purchase, and it was a decision I have not regretted.

From the outset, it should be made clear that this is not gentle, soporific music. In fact, I'm not even too sure it features entirely piano- some of the tracks sound like a keyboard has been used, although the picture on the inside cover would suggest otherwise. Certainly, the tracks have added electronic touches, and these embellishments add the icing on the cake to many of the pieces.

From the very first track through to the end of the CD, the listener knows they are hearing something fresh and different- not to mention very special. This is sit-up-and-take-notice piano music. It is music with attitude. Piano music with balls. Elijah Bossenbroek's performance certainly impresses. I confess to having never heard of him before, but one listen to this tremendous CD should ensure his listeners come back time and time again, and they are unlikely to forget his music in a hurry.

The CD opens with the (perhaps unintentionally) amusing title, ‘I Give Up’. It begins sedately enough- almost hauntingly- but quickly reaches a crescendo. The playing is frantic, almost out of control- and yet Elijah's skill at the piano holds it all together. One might imagine that the ensuing composition would be difficult to listen to, but the reality is quite different. Somehow, it holds great appeal and is both melodic and structured. I particularly like the accompanying poem by Tammi Richwine, reproduced below. It creates the impression that the individual is suicidal and is set to end it all. But this is not depressing music in the style of Mimi Goese- to me, this track conveys someone whose life is all over the place, with barely a moment to stop. I love it!

Track two is entitled ‘Prism’, a link to the album's title presumably, which is Latin for "Seize the Light". The Arizona pianist has certainly seized the moment. In typical Elijah Bossenbroek fashion, the piece starts off innocuously enough, twinkling along, drawing in the unsuspecting listener. Calm. Tranquil. The tempo and dynamics soon increase however, and the piece becomes lively. Again, the melody holds great appeal. ‘Prism’ comes round full circle, and ends just as delicately as it begun- perhaps we are seeing Elijah's music from all sides. This is a lovely track, and is one of my favourites on the entire CD.

The title ‘Rest’ would imply a gentler piece, and to some extent this is true. The opening to this track has a Continental feel to it. It sounds to me like a combination of piano and keyboard is at work here. Again, the melody is lovely.

Track 4 is entitled, ‘Life's a Stage Play’. It again features exquisite piano / keyboard playing. It's a very upbeat track and impossible not to like. It's interesting that despite the vivaciousness of his music, Elijah's compositions are still relaxing in their own unique way. They won't send you to sleep, but they will capture your attention through their melodic appeal and invite the listener to take their own special journey.

‘Assault’ starts darkly. Something is wrong. This is almost gangster music. The synthesiser embellishments add to the intrigue. Soon a flurry of notes defuse the situation somewhat, but the left-hand keeps the suspense going. Things take a turn for the better after 1:40- the tempo increases, higher notes are used and a pretty melody comes along. But, as in all the best films, just when the listener thinks all is right with the world, Elijah delivers the killer blow. A plethora of low notes, maximum volume... disaster has struck! Soon the situation improves, but once again the listener might be lured into a false sense of security. Before long, Elijah is hammering away at the ivories, and this time the damage is irreparable. This track is tremendous fun and is like a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

‘Always Faithful’ is the album's sixth track. Its opening is intriguing- sounding like a military band. In comes a delicate and quite beautiful melody. But the reader will know not to fall into the trap again. A few moments later, a sound of what appears to be a jet taking off interrupts the quiet moment. The rest of the track is quite restrained for Elijah, but is still more dramatic than just about any other composition found on Piano Heaven!

The CD's seventh track is entitled ‘Try to Keep Up’. I'm not sure whether that is directed at the listener who is probably breathless from all the energy of this recording. Another quite delightful opening, and then the pace quickens- but perhaps not quite as much as on previous tracks. I love the happy melody which shines through very clearly on this piece.

‘Deserted’ would indicate emptiness and solitude, and the opening to this track is certainly sombre and reflective. After about a minute, Elijah's fingers get to work. Big, low notes emphasise the sadness and frustration within this piece. It is quite lovely.

‘Full Cycle’ is extremely beautiful. As ever, the piece develops. It quickens, then slows and quickens again. It was whilst listening to this piece that I realised that I would love to hear extended versions of the openings of all of Elijah's tracks- it would make quite a wonderful CD I think. Elijah has an undisputed ear for melody, and I think it would make an interesting and engaging project.

Track ten is entitled ‘Wonder’. Again, it is a reflective piece with a gorgeous melody throughout.

On Elijah's debut CD, "Harmony in Disarray", my favourite track by a country mile was, ‘A Song of Simplicity’. Intriguingly, an alternative version appears as the eleventh track, rather appropriately titled ‘A Song Simply Remixed’. I like it very much, but it was always going to be an uphill task to equal the appeal of the original. I am sure this was never the intention, and it certainly is captivating, but the most endearing feature of the original was its comparative simplicity, and this remix is slightly more cluttered. That said, this is still a first-class track.

‘Reality Begins’ is the title of track twelve. It follows a similar pattern to the other tracks on this CD, but it was whilst listening to the album's final section that I came to my second realisation: this is one consistent man. Not one duff track in the CD's entirety, and that is pretty good going. Many of the pieces are structured in the same way, but the melodies are always unique and consistently appealing.

‘Falling Away’, the penultimate track, perhaps hints at the desperation of the situation but equally holds great appeal to the listener. I don't know how Elijah does it- on the one hand, he is writing about people on the brink, with his music frantic and despairing, and yet he still makes the music endearing to the listener... every time! This man certainly has quite some talent.

I've lost count of the number of piano CDs I own that feature ‘Amazing Grace’. Fortunately, this being Elijah Bossenbroek, the version appearing as the final track on this CD is certainly not another run-of-the-mill number. It's a glorious take on the classic hymn. Elijah makes it his own, and having come this far in the CD, I expected nothing less!

Overall, this is a superb CD and one that I highly recommend. It is fresh and original, and will certainly clear the cob-webs! Elijah Bossenbroek is an extremely talented composer and pianist, and I look forward to hearing more of his work in the future.

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELIJAH BOSSENBROEK: Carpe Lumen

Carpe Lumen

Elijah Bossenbroek

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah Bossenbroek

Elijah Bossenbroek

 

 

Listen to I Give Up

Click the piano

 

 

 

I Give Up

 

I give up

Can take no more

Bruised and battered

My body's sore

 

Blackened eyes

A heart so torn

Broke in pieces

My spirit's worn

 

Anger takes him

Beyond my grasp

Live never knowing

Which day's my last.

 

I give up

And walk away

I say ‘enough

Not one more day’

 

I lift my head

And hold it high

I give up

My soul to fly

 

Tammi Richwine