A close musical encounter of the third kind: that might be the most appropriate way to describe what the people on board The Space on July 18 2010 were lucky enough to experience. That night, a grand piano – let’s call it a UFO – had landed in the illustrious Ibiza club. At its helm: Francesco Tristano, not yet thirty and already a long-distance adventurer in sonic space. Also on board, in the DJ booth, was Carl Craig, controlling Ableton with the help of his Ipad. Carried away by the fervor of an audience in perfect osmosis, the duo flew higher and higher, eluding the borders between musical genres and giving a performance that has already gone down in Space’s history.
A few months earlier, in Detroit, a similar sighting had been reported: a grand(iose, of course) piano had settled for a week amidst an impressive number of machines and a no less impressive number of records, virtually
filling the studios of Planet E communications, Carl Craig’s label. For it was precisely there, in that stronghold of Detroit techno, that Francesco Tristano had chosen to record Idiosynkrasia, his third solo album for inFine´.
Although at first these two events may sound surprising, they are links in an inescapably coherent chain of events. After all, isn’t the piano the ancestor – and a pretty valiant one at that – of keyboards, synthesizers and the like, whose sounds are essential features of our nocturnal soundtracks? As such, isn’t it equally at home in a club as in a concert hall? Does it not belong just as much in Berghain as in Carnegie Hall? Most certainly, provided the aforementioned piano is in good hands… We’re in luck: Francesco Tristano’s hands have already proven, time and time again, how capable they are of taking the piano and, with it, the audience into previously unexplored territories.
Following a very classical course – from music academies to philharmonic orchestras – Francesco Tristano’s trajectory was to change radically when he became a student, in the early 2000s, at The Juilliard School in New York. It was also around this time that he discovered the city’s clubs, a whole parallel world: electronic music. A new avenue to explore, which Francesco, always hungry for experience, would rush into, shunning the beaten track. This new horizon he had discovered, and continues to pursue to this day, was the promise of a truly liberated form of music, impossible to narrow down to one (or more) specific genre(s); a kind of music that would also let the piano resonate differently, in the radiance of a new-found modernity.
In February 2005, a performance at the Bouffes du Nord (in Paris), rounded off by a dazzling version of Derrick May’s Strings Of Life, was to lead directly to the birth of the inFine´ label, which adopted an unconventional line from the outset, in tune with Francesco’s approach.
Since then, three solo albums have been released – Not For Piano (2007), produced by Murcof and Auricle Bio On (2008), mastered by Moritz Von Oswald – and Idiosynkrasia (2010) as well as ‘Aufgang’ (2009)’, a trio formed by Francesco, Rami Khalife´ and Aymeric Westrich, who met during the New York years. At the crossroads of numerous musical sources – from techno to classical/contemporary music, not forgetting ambient – each record takes pathways that are both specific and convergent, leading into a realm of perpetual motion (a Tristanoman’s land?).
The tireless explorer that is Francesco Tristano returns this fall with a new solo album whose title, Idiosynkrasia, is an artistic manifesto. Fundamentally polychromatic, evolving ceaselessly from one mode to the next, Idiosynkrasia nevertheless proves to be perfectly coherent and reveals, in fine, an extra-large conception of music.
“I’m more and more convinced that there are no limits to music: one can always go one step further…”