Damned Piano

Bob Bellerue, 2015

Evaluations of noise and drone records can be troublesome. The standards of quality are entirely different from melodic music. Harmony and progression are thrown out in favor things like tone color and depth, dynamic range and even the physical effects of listening. You have to examine the quality of the sounds as sound itself. Estimations of beauty don't figure in.

Damned Piano is a stunning drone and noise record. With no intention of being dismissive of electronic music, there's an easy appeal of minimalism made with physical instruments. The temperamental nature of the physical word provides a rich, intricate and activated sound palette within each and every note. No tone from an instrument is pure. It's made up the fingering, the frame and resonant body as well as the strike. Bob Bellerue agitates a grand piano—immaculately recorded—with microphones and loudspeakers feeding back on themselves, using effects pedals to get the nuanced control he wants. Each pitch on the record seems to obliquely imply dozens of others. Even when it veers into intense and distorted terrain, there's a wealth of detail to obsess over.