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Review of album "Songs of Love and Hate"

      The instrumental album "Songs of Love and Hate" by the artist Ezekiel is composed
in strong Neo-Romantic style. There are resonances of Chopin, Rachmaninov and even Wagner in this music, which are apparent from the very beginning, as the first track,
"The Sea" is an extremely evocative piece of music, which has a strong rhythmic identity.
The reiterated musical motifs, which are passed up and down between the two hands of the piano, are accompanied by long orchestral sweeps. This reminds me of both:  the relentless technique of left-hand accompaniments of Chopin's Nocturnes and the harmonic fluidity of the fast movement of Rachmaninov's third piano concerto. A strong influence could also be the music of Minimalist composers like Michael Nyman and Philip Glass, as they also evoke the same kind of emotional stasis in their music that you can find in the "Songs of Love and Hate".  However, the music is not Minimalist in a strict sense, due to the fact that the tracks are short and contain fast harmonic movements, but there is a great deal of pieces on the album, which seem to rely on a process of reiterated motifs as the main accompaniment principle. The romantic piano concerto is again apparent towards the end of the album in the marvellous "The End Is The Beginning...",  which relates strongly to the beginning of the album in its' use of typical Rachmaninov-type features.
An interesting section towards the end repeats a falling open interval in the strings, a characteristic of the movement in endless circles found in Minimalists' works.

      The second track "Loss" is set against a similar sombre background:  a repeating Alberti bass- this forms the harmonic ground on which the melody is unveiled. There is a strong link with the concept of film music, as each track on this album carries a particular mood or a suggestive frame of mind, which could easily be matched to something visual.
I suppose this is linked to the idea of instrumental songs, which are a transposition of the verbal into the context of the instrumental. The accompaniment is not divorced from the text, which is not verbally expressed but an inherently hidden feature of the music and is left to the conjecture of the listener. Similarly, the track "My Heart"  would fit perfectly into the context of sountrack music, as it is loaded with a lot of romantic pathos, exemplifying a wonderful Chopin- like rhythmical freedom and evoking strong images of the natural processes found in nature.   Ezekiel really shines here as a pianist...

The track "Tranquillo"  has the same lyrical emphasis on the piano, which introduces a new element, a chordal refrain, which in my opinion is a procedure that is used more often in 'popular' music. This piece is perhaps a bridge between the different worlds of popular and classical music, again bearing many of the hallmarks of film music. Likewise, the song "Hymn"  is similar to John Lennon music in character, and is rather different to some of the other pieces on the album.
A total contrast to the lyrical piano style of "Tranquillo"  is the track "Making a Wish", which uses a marimba/xylophone and orchestral setting. It is perhaps one of the most unusual tracks I've heard because it introduces something very experimental to the album. In this song, I felt that Ezekiel could have perhaps 'freed' the music from its' dynamic rhythm for a while and expanded this piece adding a little bit more of the freedom of  Messiaen...
One of my favourites on the album is a little song called "Kuan Yin",  that has an incessant rhythmical ostinato with an off-beat left hand, which is definitely Minimalist in its' conception, but with a strong Eastern flavour. It is a very compact and beautiful moment, that to me is more intimate than some of the other songs...

      To give credit to Ezekiel, this album really achieves a lot with MIDI instruments, that other musicians often cannot, and I would love to hear it being played by a real orchestra.
At times it is a very eclectic mix of music with a wealth of stylistic diversity and I find that there is a strong Minimalist core to this work, which is refreshing...
      The album "Songs of Love and Hate" is strongly evocative of the rhythms of the human body and nature, and it is a very thoughtful work indeed.

                                                                                                               Rory Braddell
                                                                                (M. A. in Musicology, Cambridge)




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