Switched On – Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat: Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat (Bureau B)

What’s the story?

This is a collaboration from two trained pianists who also look to electronic music and synthesizers for inspiration. As the press release describes, Etienne Jaumet creates unusual sounds thanks to the rhythmic machines that accompany his piano, while Fabrizio Rat uses this classical and romantic instrument par excellence to explore the techno sphere.

What’s the music like?

There are seven intriguing tracks here, and they work as studies into the piano’s ability to create colours and tones well beyond its original design. The electronics complement the overall sound but are always in thrall to the main act, and while melodic interest is often at a premium, both musicians use what they have with impressive economy.

After a few listens those melodic cells start to plant earworms, while the different tones reveal more piano originated tones than first thought. Visione Pop, for instance, makes clever use of the higher keys as percussion, with burbling electronics providing the effective minimal riffs. Transmutazione also goes higher up the register, with a metallic timbre shifting over a constant pitch towards the lower end, but the ominous Rive Opposte, the opening track, uses the lowest end of the piano in a hollow study.

Soffiare Insieme is a longer piece, a really effective study in colour and texture that hypnotises through its regular patterns of contraction. In contrast Profondità uses the midrange piano notes like meteor trails, with a clever use of reverberation and a curious whirring in the foreground that sounds like the occasional winding of a clock.

Does it all work?

It does. The music has a darker shade to it but Jaumet and Rat clearly had a meeting of minds in the project, and the results are never less than intriguing.

Is it recommended?

Very much so. Followers of both musicians will want to acquire what turns out to be an engaging and stimulating collaboration.

Listen