Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Song of the Week 31: 'Penelope' by Oliver Sadie

Today I'm doing something a little different then my usual reviews. Like Met's post last week, I'll be doing a song by Oliver Sadie. I've already heard a lot about him (pretty much through what Met has told me), and I've also listened to his piano works already. Now the song from him that I'm going to be reviewing is technically something that I've already heard before, although it was only the original piano sample that I had found on his home website (I have also downloaded everything from there). This sample that I've heard is actually one of my favorites that I downloaded also. Anyway, I'm usually not the type of person who will rant on and on in the introduction, so here's Oliver Sadie's song entitled 'Penelope'.

The song starts out rather softly. The piano begins to play in a light swing, while a smooth synth can barely be heard in the background. This synth, although hardly audible at first, begins to crescendo slightly at about 0:06. This definitely adds a little more atmosphere. At roughly 0:12 the piano continues to play its small swing, although it's played much higher pitch wise. Another synth is added as well, although it only plays once here. The piano is the main sound being heard at this point, since the synth completely died down. At 0:23 the synth starts back up again (although according to Oliver Sadie, he says that he used "pad layers" ...sorry, I'm not very familiar with electronic music). Nothing out of the ordinary happens for a while, although the piano coupled with the synth sounds great. You can start to hear a difference in volume at about 0:41, and soon I could hardly hear the piano anymore. However, at about 0:46 the piano as well as the synth come back with a dramatic bang. The transition to this change went well, and I really can't see how he could have made that any better. The various synths (or pad layers) will chime in to fill in all those gaps that the piano isn't covering. There's another change that's very similar to the one at 0:46, but this time it's at 0:56. There's a melody change at about 1:06, and the synths continue to do their thing. The synths usually play stretched notes, and then have a tendency to play/repeat notes about every measure or so. There's a very small buildup at 1:21, although it didn't really lead into anything other than the transition back into a similar rhythm that had been previously playing. The only real change I can distinguish among the new section is the fact that there are many more chords being used, which still make the song sound well. At 1:36 the right hand treble clef takes over to create it's own melody while the previous rhythm will lightly play in the background (with the synth of course). There's some great control here in terms of dynamics. I can definitely tell from about 1:46 that the piano is becoming much more syncopated than before. Also, at 1:56, the melody starts a different, more syncopated rhythm as well. There's even a little bit of flair at 2:03 when the melody does a rapid little triplet, which I have a tendency to love. At 2:06 the melody becomes lower in pitch I notice, and also a little more melancholy. The synth that plays alongside it does a great job creating such a dramatic effect for what's going on. We get to about 2:16 now, and I can't really put into words how to describe the piano here. However, somebody on SoundCloud did comment that this section had some "old-school melody" here, and I pretty much agree with him/her. This section is all one massive buildup, gradually rising in pitch and volume. At 2:40 the song reaches a climax I believe, and the piano being played continues to maintain that dramatic feeling throughout the song. At 3:04, the piano rises a little bit with some simple chords, and transitions back into that original rhythm that was being played way back near the beginning of the song. As the song progresses, it sounds like a unique mixture of the rhythm at 0:46 and the funky rhythm at 2:16. This can be heard at about 3:25. The "old-school" melody will continue to play while a couple higher notes play occasionally. Then it starts to die down, and the song is over.

Pros: The piano work was awesome. I can tell there's very good control with dynamics, and I liked how the swing rhythm kept going until the very end. The original sample of this-where it was only solo piano-was great in itself, but it's even better when it was remastered with the various synths/pad layers. Oliver Sadie also did a great job in keeping the atmosphere throughout also. It was dramatic, flowing, and the song also had a decent length as well. Excellent work, and it was enjoyable to listen to.

Cons: The synths could have been a little bit louder. If they were a little bit louder, the atmosphere might have been a little more obvious. There were times when I could barely hear any of the background stuff, so an increase in volume would help. Also, there could have been a little more variety with the piano; I felt like there was a little too much repetitiveness. Other than that I can't really think of any more cons.

Overall: Excellent piano piece. The whole atmosphere of it was great, and the fluidity never stops, making it a song worth listening to despite its couple flaws. It was brilliantly executed.

Rating: 8.8/10

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