Characters of A Dream Play – Pekkanini (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Even with his trademark Theramin playing a slightly lesser role this time out, Pekkanini is still able to fashion some intriguing music. His source of inspiration for this latest album is Strindberg’s “A Dream Play” each tracking being a sonic character study exploring the personalities and traits of the people within in but communicated via the medium of music rather than words. Not so much a concept album, more an album of concepts, short sketches that bring the cast of characters to life.

And with all of this talk of Theremins and concept albums you might expect this to have a very retro feel, and there are certainly a lot of sound palettes from the past that have found their way into the musical weave – 60’s TV sound scores, baroque-pop, dark classical sweeps and various avant gardening, but as much as it nods to the past it also looks to the here and now, a sort of future-retro experiment that also feels very grounded in the present day. Grounded because its tribute to the past is built out of modern production sensibilities and its glances to the future are less unpredictable lights of fancy and more the logical conclusions to the weight of history that propels it.

The Lord Chancellor is a heavy and formal piece, the lead lines feeling almost oriental in their flavours, The Poet is a thoughtful, deliberate and insular musical musing and Ballet Girl, already a Silver Medal winner in the 2019 Global Music Awards, walks a fine line between graceful movement and pent up energy. Although on loose nodding terms with Strindberg’s original, the fact that within the titles and the music you can already see those characters, or at least a character that the music has helped you conjure, walk from the speakers of your hi-fi, is all the justification you need for such a project.

I love non-lyrical music, especially when it is trying to create scenes and scenarios or sketch certain players and people, it makes the listener meet the artist half way. And whether the images and ideas you create for yourself based on Pekkanini’s sounds is close to what he had in mind when writing the music is almost irrelevant, it is that space between artist and listener which is important, for that is where a personal relationship between the two of you is formed and music has always been an intimate dance between creator and this audience of one. Personal music made for universal consumption? How cool is that?

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