There’s something so emotive about the Piano as a solo instrument, and Zoon van snooK, the Bristol based, Barcelona born producer and musician has taken it and written a handful of beautifully reflective and immersive songs for his new album Se•pa•ra•ción, out via the celebrated Lo Recordings on 14th May.
We’re more used to hearing van snooK as a producer, and an experimental one at that, so this is a departure to have the piano, albeit accompanied at various points by field recordings taken in Central and South America – specifically a Peruvian quena, Mayan flute, and a story from within the Brazilian favelas.
On the process, snooK says “The writing of the album – each song being based around differing ideas of separation – was informed by the previous two years of my life, where hitherto I had been living in Catalunya – a region beset with the overhanging phantom of independence and the perceived fine line of nationalism, which unavoidably arises as a by-product of these sentiments. All of this set against the unmentionable ‘B’ word back in the UK, unfolding like a soiled sleeping bag that was bestowed but never requested.”
Shrouded in echo, electronic hue and field recording, and with distinctive South American flutes fluttering in and out, opener The Coral and the Hummingbird sets the scene for the album, which sits comfortably within a modern classical bent that allows for space and melody and some level of experimentation. There’s nothing new in the harmonic language Zook uses, he just plays and toys with it, seemingly following whatever emotion the track brings to him.
After the melancholy of the opener and follow on Zocala, theres more optimism in ¡Madre!, before the storytelling of Rocinta and the latin flavours rise to the top in Lago. The formula thats serves him so well, these deep dreamy chords and melodies that jump around the keys glue the record together.
After a short electronic interjection (Subachoque), the album returns to its roots, including the achingly beautiful single Cusco, but it’s the closer of the record Teotihuacan that really steals the show, with homogenous strings and a myriad of instruments weaving in and out of eachother, before the piano takes its final, stately, bow.
Seperacion is an album to get acquainted with. It explores the dark times, the isolation and yes, the separation we’ve all had to deal with in the last year. Spending time with the record is almost cathartic, a comfort blanket to these strange times.